WITH a number of games called off due to the weather at the weekend, it was the turn of Northend United Youth’s U11s to turn in a performance of the week for the Blues.
Now under the new management team of Conor Connelly and Dessie Metrustry, the young team responded to their new regime by beating Oak Athletic from the Maiden City by a 2-1 scoreline at the Clough MUGA on Friday night.
The U9s match in the North West and Coleraine and District Youth League resulted in the Baby Blues surrendering their recent good form, when they lost to a good Oak Athletic team.
Also at the weekend, the Northend Football Development Centre was well represented at the IFA U8 Mini Soccer Blitz in Coleraine on Saturday, with a combined team of 2005s and 2006s participating.
In the National League, the U14s match against League Leaders, Crusaders, fell victim to the overnight frost, while the U16s match against Ballymena was cancelled from midweek.
Northend took a combined team of 2005s and 2006s to play in an IFA sponsored U8 Mini Soccer Tournament at Ballysally, Coleraine on Saturday.
The Blues were pooled along with Coleraine, Ballymena United, Ballymoney United and Institute, in this round robin tournament.
Northend turned in a number of encouraging performances, including a good win over Ballymoney United - where top scorer Jay McKeown scored the winning goal - and some close shaves with the other teams.
Northend: Harvey Meeke, Ben O’Neill, Kevin McAllister, Lee Turner, Callum Hendron, Jay McKeown, Pearse McAuley, Lewis Devlin, Alex Spurgeon.
Oak Athletic 5, Northend 1: Northend played their final league game before the winter break against an Oak Athletic side who are sitting close to the top of the U9s league.
Despite enjoying a majority of possession during the early stages, the ‘baby blues’ were unable to convert chances and instead it was Oak who took the lead on nine minutes when a long up-field ball bobbled around the Northend box before finding its way into the back of the net.
The ‘wee blues’ made an immediate response through Josh McPeake. The young Northend defender picked up a loose ball in the middle of the pitch and ran half the length of the filed, evading several tackles on his way, before forcing the ball into the goal.
A little against the run of play when an Oak striker fired home their second from an acute angle minutes before the half-time whistle.
In the second half, the game was on an absolute knife edge and it was clear that the next goal would be crucial in deciding the outcome and Oak grabbed their third goal on the thirteenth minute mark as a hopeful up-field pass agonisingly made its way into the side of the net.
Oak scored their fourth from a deflected corner and their fifth with a scrambled effort in the dying seconds of the game for what is a harsh scoreline on the Ballymena boys. MOM - Josh McPeake.
Northend: O Campbell, D Magill, J McPeake, C McMillan, P Bristow, J Adams, K Cosgrove, R McGrath.
Northend 2, Oak Athletic 1: This match, played on Friday night at the Clough MUGA, turned out to be a cracker with both teams playing great football on a very cold night.
Oak Athletic were fourth in the league before this game and with Northend looking for their first win, on paper the Derry team were favourites. However under the new management of Conor Connolly and Dessie Metrustry, Northend took the game to Oak Athletic with the backline of Coates, Givens, Connolly and Stewart stopping any threats from the Oak frontline and turning it into a counter-attack.
Athletic went in front on 20 minutes when a stray pass allowed the Oak Athletic player time to score past the advancing Sean Higgins in the Northend goal.
In the second half, Northend attacked the Athletic goal with wave after wave of attacks and this paid off when a ball played back to Matthew Stewart was struck first time from 20 yards out and flew over the Oak Athletic keeper into the top corner to level the score.
Things got better for Northend when Oisin Connolly scored the goal of the game when they won a free-kick after another attack and when Connolly stepped up to take it, he coolly placed the ball into the far corner of the Oak Athletic goal to give Northend a deserved lead.
However, they were made to fight the whole way with Sean Higgins pulling off three brilliant saves near the end of the game to give Northend a well deserved win.
Northend: S Higgins, J Givens, J Coates, O Connolly (c), M Stewart, C Metrustry, C Meeke, J Scullion, C Forsythe, C Metrustry, L Spurgeon
FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Northend’s Football Development Centre finishes for a winter break on Friday 30th November at Clough 3G MUGA. It’s planned to return again for another eight week period commencing in early February 2013, where once again fun and games will be used to develop the boys and girls for life in one of Northend’s successful football teams.
For more information please call John Devlin on 07919056834
Northend United would like to congratulate the latest group of coaches to get qualified through the IFA Sponsored Level One Coaching Qualification.
With no fewer than 12 coaches completing this award at the weekend, including three from last year’s U16 team, the future certainly looks bright for Mid-Antrim’s most progressive Club.
Northend’s Football development Co-ordinator, John Devlin, stated: “It’s always pleasing to see such a high level of interest in our Club. With a number of events planned for Community participation in the forthcoming months, Northend are always on the lookout for new coaches to strengthen our existing team.”
Northend United are committed to coach development at the highest levels and would encourage anyone else who is interested in following this path to get in contact with John on 07919056834.
“Just another weekend” is how Northend’s Chairman Johnny Sayers described this weekend’s fixtures for the Ballymena Blues.
In an indication of how far this Club has come in such a short time, the Northend team’s line up this week against the good and the great of Irish League football with Portadown, Crusaders, Ballymena United and Limavady United in action against some of the Northend teams.