SOUTHSIDE Youths suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday when they were beaten 1-0 by neighbours Ballymena United in the NIBFA Cup.
Watched by a large crowd at the Showgrounds, the game began with both teams allowing each other no time on the ball. Against a big physical Ballymena team Southside battled to try and control possession.
The first clear chance of the match fell to Ballymena on 10 minutes but big Lewis Erwin in the Southside goal made a fantastic double save to deny the visitors.
As the half progressed Southside showed encouraging signs going forward following several neat passing moves but again it was the visitors who nearly broke the deadlock on 20 minutes when the post came to the rescue following a quick Ballymena break up the pitch.
There was controversy on 25 minutes when Matthew Henry went on a run for Southside and appeared to be down inside the Ballymena area. Loud appeals for a penalty were ignored as the referee waved play on as the half finished in a scoreless stalemate.
Half time saw Southside lose full back Jordan Kirk due to injury being replaced by Dylan Graham and from the restart Southside showed their intentions of continuing to compete in all areas of the pitch.
This was a fiercely competitive match with tackles flying in and on 55 minutes Leon Bonnes was the victim of a robust challenge.
Southside lost Ryan Corrigan through injury following another heavy tackle on the hour mark and he was replaced by Dylan Hamill. Clear cut chances at both ends were non existent as the game entered the final minutes.
Extra time looked inevitable until misfortune struck Southside with only four minutes remaining. A slip in the defence presented the visitors a clear run on goal and from close range the Ballymena player poked the ball past a helpless Lewis Erwin.
Southside were awarded a free kick in the final minute just outside the Ballymena penalty area following good hold up play from David Calderwood. The resulting free kick failed to trouble the visiting keeper and the game ended 1-0.
Southside, from the Belfast & East Antrim Youth League showed everyone that after only four years in existence they can compete with Ballymena or any other National League team.
Now the attention turns back to domestic duties next Saturday 12th when the quest for league honours resumes for Southside with a home league game again at the Showgrounds ko 10.30am.
Southside: Erwin, Kirk, Livingstone, Allen, Logan(C), Henry, Bonnes, McNiece, Corrigan, McCready, Calderwood, R Stewart, J Stewart, McDowell, Hamill, Graham.