There was no Hallowe’en horror show for Northend United Youth under-16s as they reached the semi-final of the Lisburn Invitational Youth League Shield on Saturday.
It was not so lucky for the U14s who lost a tight match against Oxford Sunnyside Colts in a three goal thriller, while the U13 team lost their match against Hillsborough Boys and continue to include a number of U12s in their team as injuries force out some key players.
The Club’s youngest teams had a free weekend with both the North West and Coleraine League and the IFA Development Centres all enjoying a well earned break.
Hillsborough Boys 6, Northend United 2: Northend were finding it difficult to control the Hillsborough Boys two front men who were very quick and it was these players who gave them a comfortable lead at half time even though Northend created a lot of scoring opportunities.
Ross Gamble on the right wing having an inspired performance and he created most of these chances with his constant attacking runs and Charlie Metrustry on the left wing linking up well with Josh Coates at left back to create some chances for Matthew Stewart to attack the Hillsborough goal but neither player could find the target.
Northend kept pressing the Hillsborough back line and eventually they got their breakthrough when Charlie Metrustry closed down the Hillsborough defender who was trying to guide the ball back to his keeper when he got to the ball first to blast home from just inside the box.
Hillsborough responded with a quick goal before Matthew Stewart scored from outside the box with a great effort that slid under the keeper and into the Hillsborough goal.
Again Hillsborough responded with another goal but give credit to the Northend players they never gave up and continued to play good football until the end of the match, however their problem is finding the back of the net.
The young team continue to have major injury problems and with some many U13 players on the injury list, five players from the U12 panel again impressed whilst stepping up a year to play in the highly competitive Lisburn Youth League. MOM - Ross Gamble, Josh Coates, Charlie Metrustry
Northend: E McSparran, R McKillop, J Coates, J Kirkpatrick, C Meeke, R Mark, C Metrustry, C McDonald, P Ferris, M Stewart, R Gamble, R Boomer, M Rainey, H Wylie, C Kilgore.
Northend United 1, Oxford Sunnyside Colts 2: Northend turned in a below par performance in this game and never got to grips with the Oxford Sunnyside strikers. R
uairi Campbell was on target for Northend when he converted a penalty and Robert McCluney turned in a man of the match performance.
However the Northend defence again gifted the Oxford team the two goals and manager Mark Lecky knows a defensive improvement is required if the boys are to maintain their challenge for a top 3 finish. MOM -
Northend: C Brennan, T McAuley, S Lecky (c), S Frew, J Brady, R Iovu, R McCluney, C McGarry, M Willighan, R Campbell, T Patchett, R Jones, C Gordon, N Craig.
Midway 3, Northend United 4 (AET): Northend had to contend with a very late pitch change in this match, due to a water-logged pitch, with a number of their players only arriving shortly before kick-off.
However this didn’t disrupt a great team performance from the young Blues team who turned in their best footballing performance of the season.
With Tom Campbell and Conor Graham stamping their authority on the game, it wasn’t long before the Ballymena Boys took the lead. Some great exchange play from Sam Bennett and Jamie Houston played Zack Herbison through and he slipped the ball past a Midway defender and smashed the ball past a helpless Midway keeper, to give the Blues the lead after ten minutes.
Northend were looking very comfortable at this stage of the game, with the formidable central defensive pairing of Robbie Dennison and Ryan McKenna dealing with the rare Midway attacks but they were caught out when a long punt upfield from a Midway player found their striker in an offside position, however he was allowed to run on and slip the ball past Bradley Cairns in the Northend nets, much to the dismay of the Northend coaches, players and supporters.
However such is the spirit in this team, that the boys didn’t allow this setback to affect them and they came storming back at Midway. Jamie Houston was causing the Midway defence all sorts of problems with his darting play and from his throughball, Northend’s diminutive striker, Zack Herbison, again took possession the ball and beat a Midway defender before planting the ball past the Midway keeper and into the corner of the net.
Herbison was having a great game at this stage and he almost scored his hat-trick five minutes later, when the livewire Tom Campbell slipped him the ball but unfortunately the Midway keeper pulled off a top save. Herbison again went close minutes later when he outpaced the Midway defence but saw his shot go inches wide of the upright.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Midway drew level in the game when their striker wasn’t picked up in the Northend penalty box and he was allowed time to plant the ball into the Blues net.
Into the second half and it was Midway who started the strongest and Bradley Cairns had to be alert in the early stages. Midway could have taken the lead after five minutes, but saw a good shot hit the Northend side-netting.
Next the Midway striker out-muscled Northend’s McKenna on the edge of the penalty box and got a good shot at goals, but Cairns was again equal to it.
However the Blues weathered this early pressure and with Graham and Campbell again asserting their control in midfield, Northend began to claw their way back into the game. Lee McAllister was unlucky with a good shot after twelve minutes of the half, when he saw the Midway keeper pull off a great save from his piledriver of a shot.
Northend were now the team on top in this match and eventually took the lead when following a good Robbie Dennison header, Jamie Houston was first to react and score past a disappointed Midway keeper.
Minutes later, Houston again got a good shot in on the Midway goals, but their keeper made another good save.
Northend were looking for another goal to kill of the game and Sam Bennett had a good run down the Northend right wing and cut in and unleashed another good shot on the Midway goals.
Following a good four man move involving Houston, Herbison and Campbell, Sam Bennett really should have killed off the game when he had a good shot at the Midway keeper but unfortunately the keeper pulled off another great save.
With Northend not being able to kill off the game, the Blues bench knew a Midway counterattack always had the opportunity to get them back in the game and so it turned out.
With eight minutes of the match remaining, a long punt upfield again found their striker and despite Northend’s appeals for offside, he was allowed to run on and plant the ball into the bottom corner of the Northend net.
Again Northend came storming back at Midway. Tom Campbell had a good shot at the keeper before Jamie Houston was upended when he was straight through on the keeper with five minutes remaining and the referee had no option other than reduce Midway to ten men.
With almost the last kick of full-time, the Midway keeper blocked another good shot but as the ball broke and rolled along their goal-line, the Midway defender was first to react and clear the ball as Houston came storming in. Full-time score 3-3
Into extra time and as both teams began to tire, play flowed from end to end in the first period of extra time, with no clear chances being created. However all this was to change in the second period of extra time.
With penalties looking ominous, It was substitute Oliver Boyle who turned his marker and got a good shot the Midway keeper.
The Midway man of the match pulled off another good block but Zack Herbison was first to react and score his third goal of the game and the Northend winner with a few minutes of the match remaining.
Northend: B Cairns, C Cunningham, J Galbraith, R McKenna (c), R Dennison, T Campbell, C Graham, L McAllister, S Bennett, J Houston, Z Herbison, C Neilly, A Milligan, O Boyle, L McFall
FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Northend United’s Football Development Centre recommences again after a short break on Friday 7th November at the Sentry Hill Sports Hall.
The Football Development Centre is open to all boys and girls aged 4 to 8 inclusive who are unconnected with any other Club and takes from 6.00pm to 7.30pm.
For more information, or to reserve your child a place on the course, please call John Devlin on 07919056834. Application forms can also be printed off the Northend website www.northendunitedyouthfc.co.uk
FAMILY QUIZ NIGHT
Northend United Youth’s Family Quiz Night, held on Thursday 30th October at Connolly’s Bar, again proved to be popular occasion in the Club’s social calendar.
Quiz Master for the evening was our very own comedian, Johnny Sayers, who baffled the contestants with his range of knowledge and expert commentary throughout the night.
Congratulations to Mark Herbison’s “Leftovers” team which turned in a star performance on the night to win by two clear points.