Maiden City Academy 2
Ballymena United 3
Ballymena couldn’t have asked for a better start when two minutes in a lack of communication in the MCA defence lead to the ball not being cleared properly and the Sky Blues striker took full advantage. The visitors were in full control and the second goal didn’t take long to arrive as a Ballymena midfielder was given too much time on the edge of the edge and fired home.
The home slowly come back into the game with Jordan O’Doherty prominent in midfield and just before half time MCA felt they were denied an opportunity to get back into the game when the away goalkeeper came out of his box and punched the ball clear only for the referee to wave play on.
In the second half the home side started to take control and a goal always looked likely. Jamie Robinson was re-introduced 15 minutes into the second half in the unfamiliar role of centre forward but this paid dividends when he raced onto a Matthew McGarrigle pass and shot first time across the keeper into the net. City maintained their composure and worked the space for Ben Bucannon just inside the box and he was able to emulate Robinson’s goal minutes earlier.
Just when it looked like City were in pole position to win the game they won a free kick just inside the Ballymena half but committed too many players forward and Ballymena hit them on the counter attack put themselves 3-2 up eight minutes to go. City pushed in the final moments but couldn’t find another way through the now resolute Ballymena defence.
Maiden City Academy: Ben Mills, Ross Barr, Aaron Rush, Tom King, Tom McLaughlin, Jamie Robinson, Luke Toland, Jordan O’Doherty, Cahir McMonagle, Matthew McGarrigle and Cathal O’Kane. Subs (All used): Conor Polley, Ryan Ward, Ben Bucannon, Cormac Norris, Tyler Toland.
Maiden City Academy 3
Magherafelt Sky Blues 3
MCA had most of the possession early on with midfielders Odhran McCrossan and Josh Green combining well. The locals looked likely to score the opener but were caught by a swift counter attack as Magherafelt broke and scored with their first attack. City were stunned but got back on level terms when the tenacious Oran McGill created space and slotted the ball into the bottom corner. MCA fell behind again shortly before half time when left back, Michael Kelly, was adjudged to have fouled the Magherafelt forward in the penalty area. Pearse McLarnon coolly slotted past Shane Wallace to put the visitors a goal up at half time.
City introduced four substitutes at half time but continued to press for an equaliser and it fell to captain Ian Maxwell to provide it. The midfielder tried his luck from 25 yards and his excellent strike flew past the Magherafelt goal keeper into the bottom corner. City, buoyed by the goal, went in search of a winner but were badly caught out at the back as a swift attack down the left saw the Magherafelt forward fired home from six yards.
City powered forward in an attempt to get back on level terms and Jamie Burke’s excellent cross into the box found the ever alert Jack Doherty who drilled the ball home to maintain his side’s unbeaten record.
Maiden City: Shane Wallace, Ryan Higgins, Ethan Coll, Michael Kelly, Ian Maxwell, Eoghan Crilly, Josh Green. Odhran McCrossan, Justin McGee, Oran McGill, Adam Doherty. Subs (all used): Jack Doherty, Jamie Burke, Brandon Brown and Jack McCloskey.
Maiden City Academy 8
MCA started on top and raced to a two goal lead inside 10 minutes with well worked goals by Walker and McCorkell. MCA were playing some nice football at this stage but a lapse of concentration by Donaghy in MCA’s goal let the home team back in the game. Trojans then levelled with a free header at a corner to leave score 2-2 at the break.
After a few harsh words at half time, MCA came out at set about dismantling the Trojans challenge with six unanswered goals and football of the highest standard. Adam Dougherty got a hat trick as did Kyle Walker and with Higgins adding the eighth.