The weekend highlight for Ballymena United Youth Academy was a win for the 2002 group which takes them into the last eight of the NIBFA cup.
Facing a top quality side in Ridgeway this was an eye catching performance from the boys before a large crowd of family and supporters at the Antrim Forum.
The under 12’s faced a late postponement against Sion Swifts while the 11’s entertained at home this week with a top performance against North End.
The 14’s faced a Cliftonville side which has brought together the bulk of the elite NI set into one club side, the Braid boys found it tough going.
The 15’s also had a Saturday to forget however, against Ballymoor in the north west, the players know they are capable of much better than what was served up at the weekend.
With no games at Ballysally this week Ballymena Utd Under 11s played a friendly against North End to keep both teams ticking over.
BUYA were quickly into their stride with Lewis Tennant and Mark Lowry very promising in midfield with quick interchanges and link up which was easy to watch. Timmy McClure was outstanding in defence.
It was a good day for Lowry, Tennant, Adam Millar, Matthew Millar and Billy Ewart. Thanks to Brian Martin and North End for the quickly arranged game.
BUYA 3, Ridgeway Rovers 0: The last 16 of the Northern Ireland boys cup saw highflying Ridgeway Rovers travelling to play the Sky Blues and a real test for the home side.
The game started at a brisk pace with Ridgeway seeing a lot of the ball with their controlled passing game and Ballymena having to work hard to close them down.
The sky blues started to win their battles and after a good passing move through midfield the ball was slipped to Ross McCausland on the right hand side and he controlled before firing into the top corner to give Ballymena a half time lead.
The second half saw a change in formation due to a few injuries and a tight battle prevailed some great football by both sides was played and it was Ballymena who got the all important second goal and it came from Lewis Mearns hard work on the wing before setting Bobby Rainey who drilled home.
Rian Lennon was holding firm in the Ballymena goal and ably assisted by a solid back line of McCurdy, Hampshire, Heaney, Hagan and Lorimer.
It was the Braid boys who got the games final goal after good work by Max Davison he released Lewis Mearns who finished well. A superb performance against a top quality side.
Cliftonville 8, BUYA 0: This was a bad day for the U14 with their heaviest defeat of the year. Ballymena showed Cliftonville too much respect not tackling or closing down, allowing Cliftonville to play football which they did and punished Ballymena at every opportunity.The first half was a weak performance by Ballymena’s standard, and the inability of the team to close down Cliftonville quickly allowed Cliftonville to build a healthy lead of 4 goals in the first half.
The only high light of the first half was the boys were beginning to work hard and work the Cliftonville a bit more than at the beginning of the game, but the game was alrady away from them by that stage.
The second half was a much better performance, as the boys worked hard and when they pressed the Cliftonville defence and keeper found them wanting, but they sky blues could not find a finish.
Ben Fry made a penalty save and Ballymena did create a few good chances, but when the chances came for Cliftonville they were cool infront of net and finished well. The majority of boys put in a full shift and worked hard and to their credit they worked right till the final whislte which was a credit to them. The second half yeielded a further 4 goals for Cliftonville, but 3 of them came near the end of the game.
Ballymoor 6, BUYA 2: After excellent performances over the last few weeks, United left their coaching team exasperated with this lacklustre display. Into the second half of the game and United were still in the shout here but too many players had an off day and late goals put an embarrassing slate on the scoreline. United know they are much better than this and hopefully this is a one off from the group who have developed so well this campaign.