Ballymena United under 17s progressed to the semi final of the NIBFA Cup after knocking Loughside out the competition by two goals toone at the weekend.
With the United under-19 youth side already in the National Harry Cavan Youth cup final,Saturday’s performance was another reminder of the undoubted talent present amongst the youth ranks at the senior club and the under 17s, under the tutorship of Joe McCall, will be looking to push on to NIBFA finals day.
But it was the end of the road for United-s under-12 in the NIBFA Cup as they lost out in extra-time to Lurgan Town.
The boys had a great cup run and this was a high quality game between two of the province’s top sides where the Armagh boys eventually progressed in a seven goal thriller.
The 13’s were involved in another high quality encounter on Friday night in Greysteel in a top of the table Subway National League clash with Foyle Harps. Honours were even in a rip roaring game were four goals were shared.
The 14’s were level with Carnmoney FDC in another entertaining encounter at the Showgrounds on Saturday, but yet again the United boys were left disappointed with late goals for the visitors securing a win.
United 16’s lost out to Crusaders in a friendly on Friday evening on the 3g, although missing a lost of regulars United were able to trial a number of players.
U16 striker Andrew Smyth continued to impress for the senior youth team on Saturday and had already been involved midweek with Lorenzo Dawkins and debutant Adam Neilly against Moyola as yet another former Academy boy deservedly made the step up to the successful sky blues u19 side.
At the other end of the scale the United Mini soccer school opened its doors again on Saturday, with a few new faces on board, the weather held for an enjoyable morning’s football.
Lurgan Town U-12 4, BUYA U-12 3 (aet): Ballymena United YA exited the NIBFA Cup at the quarter final stage on Saturday after extra time at the hands of Lurgan Town on Saturday.
In an evenly contested game, Ballymena took the lead after 3 minutes when Joshua Balmer scored from a header.
Lurgan equalised 2 minutes later but Balmer scored again to send Ballymena in with a 2-1 lead.
In the second half Lurgan gained the initiative and scored twice in a minute to take the lead for the first time in the game.
A long range strike from Mark Lowry brought the scores level.
Despite efforts from Lewis Tennant and Adam Millar Ballymena could not get a decisive goal and were indebted to goalkeeper Ryan McGrath who made 2 superb saves to take the game into extra time.
Lurgan got the decisive breakthrough in extra time to end Ballymena’s interest in the competition.
Ballymena United under-12s’ Main Sponsor is Tullyglass Hotel. Man of the Match - Adam Watterson.
Ballymena United U-17 2, Loughside 1: Rhys Smith opened the scoring for Ballymena after 10 minutes but Loughside never gave up.
Philip Maybin made it 2-0 before the break finding the net from a well struck free kick.
The second half the sky blues allowed their SHore Road-based opponents to come into the game and as a result they soon found the score sheet.
Ballymena battled hard and defended well to ensure that by the final whistle they where in the hat for the next round.
SUBWAY NATIONAL LEAGUE
Foyle Harps U-13 2, BUYA U-13 2: A game played at a frenetic pace at Greysteel on evening, both sides looking for the win in an entertaining match.
United played some excellent football in the first half, Antrim pair Ross McCausland and Harry Foster were linking up brilliantly for the sky blues and no surprise when a delightful through ball from the latter was finished with aplomb by his strike partner.
The Londonderry side came back at United with their impressive midfield duo pulling all the strings but United fought back with the hardworking McCartney and McAllister.
The latter himself sent United ahead with a classy strike before the home side levelled soon after with a long range effort. United had all the chances in the second period to kill the game but spurned a number of opportunities unfortunately.
Josh Kirkpatrick in the United goal was redundant for long periods but was still alert to pull off a great block late on to secure the point. MOM- Another top display from under 12 Antrim lad Harry Foster.
BUYA U-14 2, Carnmoney FDC U-14 4: It was a case of “deja vu” for the under 14’s on Saturday, yet again in the game until the closing stages, they suffered a late loss with goals from a physically imposing FDC side who played some good football themselves.
Bobby Rainey was a constant threat for United and his tussle with the similar muscular Carnmoney centre half was intriguing throughout, the pacey United man found chances few and far between.
It was left to hotshot Aiden Scullion to double up for United on the day, his second goal especially was a memorable effort into the top corner.
Matthew Lorimer was highly impressive on his introduction creating space in the midfield but it was not to be for United as the Glengormley side had an extra burst in the closing stages with two late goals.
Tough once again on United but some good individual displays with Blake Douglas again looking comfortable stepping up from the 13’s.