Northend United U16s turned in an impressive performance on Saturday with a hard fought NIBFA Cup win over Annagh United.
Zack Herbison, Sam Bennett and Jamie Houston were on target the Northend Blues who now become Ballymena’s last surviving club at this age group in the prestigious competition.
The U15s were also in NIBFA Cup action when an understrength team travelled to Drumahoe to play Institute, but unfortunately conceded vital goals in the last ten minutes of the match, when it was looking like they could have got something out of this match.
The U14s drew their Lisburn Youth League match against Bloomfield with Chris Fullerton on the scoresheet while the U13s had a free weekend.
Both The U10s and U11s Youth team were in action in the North West and both teams unfortunately lost their matches against Magherafelt Sky Blues and Coleraine Academy respectively.
The U8s continued their series of matches on Friday night, in the IFA sponsored small sided games tournament in Ballymoney, while the U9s continue to impress all watching at the new IFA sponsored tournament held at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday morning.
Northend United U8s were again in action when they travelled to Ballymoney on Friday night to participate in the final week of the IFA tournament, before its winter break. They competed against teams from Ballymoney United, Ballymena United, Coleraine and Cloughmills in 12 minute games.
Northend United: L McDonald, M Campbell, F McKay, D Hector, C Termania, N McKeown, O McKeown, C Termania, C Watt, R McClintock
Both Northend United and Youth U9s were again in action at the IFA mini soccer tournament at Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday morning. This was the final week before a well earned winter break in this ever growing tournament. The club have had a really enjoyable 8 weeks for players and coaches alike with development clear to see. The Blues send a big thank you to Wes Gregg from the IFA for all his hardwork in organising and growing the tournament.
Northend United: C Burnside, J Mark, C Hendron, C McKeown, P McAuley, O Maka and C Reid
Northend Youth: S McDermott, D Patterson, PP Donegan, D Higgins, E Pirie, P Mitchell, D Kowalski
Northend United 5, Magherafelt Sky Blues 10: The score line read more like a rugby match than a football match and was harsh on the Ballymena team.
It was 3-3 at half-time with Shea O’Broin on target twice, along with Jay McKeown.
Things went downhill for Northend after the break as they were hit with a seven goal blitz but there were positives as Jay McKeown bagged his 31st and 32nd goals of the season. However, the highlight was the individual defensive display by man-of-the-match Ben O’Neill with his tenacious tackling and countless interceptions.
Northend: PJ McDonnell, R Campbell, Z Erwin, B O’Neill, T Boyd, J McKeown, S O’Broin, C Lutton, E Mitchell
Northend United 1, Bloomfield 1: Bloomfield had more of the play in the first half and were slightly unfortunately to go in only one goal up at the break.
Northend dominated the entire second half and were unfortunate to only score one goal scored by Chris Fullerton.
In addition to the goal, the Blues hit the post once and the bar twice. MOM - Connor Brennan.
Northend: C Brennan, R Jones, T McAuley, R McCluney, J Brady, M Willighan, R Iovu, R Campbell, T Patchett (c), C Fullerton, R Lorimer, C Gordon, N Craig
Institute 6, Northend United 3: Institute raced to a two goal lead in the opening ten minutes as the Blues come to terms with a reshuffled side and also playing on the quicker 3G surface.
Ten minutes before half time, Northend pulled a goal back, when from an Aaron Campbell corner kick, the ball wasn’t properly cleared, and Jacob Penny smashed home his first goal for the Club.
Into the second half and it was more of the same from Northend. Five minutes into the half, a great move, involving Graeme Macartney and Matthew Kirk, lead to the equalising goal, when Matthew Kirk outpaced his marker and coolly chipped the ball over the advancing Institute keeper.
However Institute scored a third goal after twenty minutes of the half, following some poor defending.
Midway through the half, Northend brought on Jordan Adams and Josh Wharry as they looked to get back in the game, and it was from an Adams corner, that the Blues drew level again. This time the ball wasn’t properly cleared and Eoin McLaughlin was on hand to drill the ball into the Institute net.
With Penny and Stevenson urging the Blues on, they almost took the lead with fifteen minutes of the half remaining. Graeme Macartney unleashed a thunderous shot which crashed against the Institute crossbar and Aaron Campbell was first to react but unfortunately headed the rebound just wide.
Northend had given everything they had on the 3G surface and conceded three late goals in the last ten minutes of the match. MOM - Jamie Stevenson, Jacob Penny
Northend: J Mark, G Macartney, J Hayburn, D Dobbin (c), A Shaw, J Penny, J Stevenson, E McLaughlin, S Hutchinson, A Campbell, M Kirk, J Adams, J Wharry
Northend United 3, Annagh United 0: The Blues welcomed Annagh United from Mid-Ulster for a rare home game at the Showgrounds, in an NIBFA Cup match, and ended up with a comfortable 3-0 win.
Zack Herbison opened the scoring after twelve minutes of the second half, when he got on the end of a Tom Campbell throughball and planted the ball past the advancing Annagh keeper.
This goal visibly lifted the Blues and five minutes later Sam Bennett rose majestically to head the ball past the Annagh keeper from a Jamie Houston corner.
Substitute Andrew Milligan rattled the Annagh crossbar with a shot from all of 25 yards before Northend scored a third goal ten minutes before the end when Herbison turned provider and his cross into the Annagh penalty box was met by Jamie Houston who slipped the ball past the keeper to ensure Northend are the only remaining Ballymena team in this age group.
Northend: L McFall, J Galbraith, L McAllister, R McKenna (c), C Graham, T Campbell, S Bennett, C Neilly, J Houston, Z Herbison, O Boyle, M Waide, A Milligan, J Dawson, B Cairns, C Cunningham, M Mucka.