Northend United U11s braved the arctic conditions on Saturday morning to cement their place in the last 16 of the Northern Ireland Boys Cup.
In a pulsating end to end match against Hillsborough Colts, the Ballymena boys came out on top in a 3-0 thriller at a snow-covered Showgrounds.
Elsewhere it was another frustrating weekend for the Lisburn League teams with each of the team’s matches being cancelled again due to the weather.
Northend United 3, Hillsborough 0: A large crowd of supporters came along to brave the chilly conditions as Northend enjoyed a rare home game in Ballymena.
Northend forced the Hillsborough defender into an error and Billy Bell raced onto the ball to place it left footed into the corner of the net to take the lead within the first minute of the match.
Ben O’Neill and Shea O’Broin combined well to set up McKeown who rounded the keeper but his effort was cleared off the line with a last ditch slide tackle.
Then Stevie Bristow won the ball in midfield again and spread it wide to Bell who crossed for McKeown to stab home the second in the 20th minute.
As the second half got under way the weather conditions deteriorated as a snow blizzard battered the supporters but the players bravely fought through the elements.
Northend wasted a number of chances to extend their lead and it looked as though that may come back to haunt them when the referee awarded Hillsborough a penalty.
However, Northend keeper George McClean pulled off a brilliant save to the biggest cheer of the day. He then quickly played the ball forward and as O’Neill slipped it through to McKeown he raced clear and smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-0 and kill the match off as a contest.
U11s manager Joe Kidd commented: “This was another top team performance from the boys and a deserved victory which follows a lot of hard work in our training sessions.
“The boys are now looking forward to the challenge of playing Warrenpoint Town in the next round.”
A big thanks to all the supporters who braved the elements to support their team and special thanks to John Devlin for providing the food and especially the hot tea and coffee after the match so that everyone could feel their fingers and toes again!
Northend: G McClean, B Adams, C McAvoy, Z Erwin, B O’Neill, S Bristow, S O’Broin, J McKeown, B Bell, K Wakefield, J Magill
FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Northend United’s Football Development Centre continues on Wednesday 4th February from 6.00pm to 7.00pm at St Louis Sports Hall
GIRLS’ PLAYER DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Building on the strength of the number of girls attending the FDC and the younger 7-a-side teams, the Club is now expanding into providing an All Girls Player Development Centre for girls born between 2009 and 2012 and this will commence on Wednesday 10th February from 6-7pm at St Louis Sports Hall, initially for a 4 week duration.
For more information, or to reserve your child a place on the course, please call John Devlin on 07919 056834. Application forms can also be printed off the Northend website www.northendunitedyouthfc.co.uk
As announced last week, Northend’s exciting partnership with the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust is hosting a football skills development program on Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th February during school half term holidays at the Ballymena Showgrounds.