Saturday brought a new challenge for our Under 14 team as they played their first competitive game in the Lisburn Invitational Football League. We have had these boys for up to eight weeks and only had two friendly games against Ards Rangers and Rosario. We have no expectations from these young players only that they go and express themselves and develop their ability for all to see.
Saturday 5th September – Lisburn Invitational Junior League under 14’s
Hillsborough Boys 6 v Downpatrick FC U6
At the beginning of the match the boys were very nervous, their touch, movement and passing were slow. It showed because indecision from the Downpatrick boys allowed Hillsborough Boys to shoot giving Dylan Connolly no chance resulting in the opening goal. Credit to the Downpatrick boys they rolled up their sleeves and good interchange of passes created an attack, the ball went out to the right wing and Ethan Breen crossed, Oran Bolton challenged the defender and the ball was in the back of the net to bring the sides level.
The game ebbed and flowed between both teams creating opportunities which were aplenty, both goalkeepers were busy and Connolly pulled off a couple of saves to keep his team in the game. The midfield of Tom Savage, Ethan Artt, Breen and Jack Fitzsimmons were slowly getting to grips with the game and they began to dominate, the free flowing football style we are trying to adopt was great going forward. Connor Rogan passed the ball to Damien McDowell; he shot from 25 yards out and scored in the top right-hand corner to put Downpatrick in front.
Again, the game was played at a fast pace and the forwards were dominating, another good move down the right flank allowed Bolton to pass to Breen who put in a first time cross and Rogan scored with a left foot shot from eight yards out to double Downpatrick’s advantage. The good work was undone immediately and Hillsborough went straight through the midfield and defence and scored from the kick off.
Hillsborough Boys 2 v Downpatrick FC 3
A couple more changes were made to personnel, the boys started where they left off, attacking the opposition, Conail Gardiner, Sean Og Burns, Brian Kennedy and Nathan Maguire had tried to stem the Hillsborough boys’ forward play, but, they were finding it difficult. A couple of changes to strategy and players allowed Gregory Kelly and Andrew McGrattan to be introduced and Savage played a man-marking role.
We regrouped and talked about the defensive lapses and the ability to move the quickly into wide spaces as we were getting plenty of joy down the channels through Colin Jones, Toner and Breen. The changes were of benefit and we had several chances with Jones, Breen, Toner, and Bolton going close.
Another attack allowed Breen to find Bolton with a pass into midfield, he went past three players before shooting from twenty yards and scored to make it 4 – 2 to Downpatrick. This work was short-lived, again defensive frailties crept in and Hillsborough replied with a goal straight away. This did not deflate the boys, they just kept working at playing football, this time Bolton played the ball to McDowell after a good passing move and McDowell scored from a shot.
As the match played on credit to Hillsborough Boys who kept working hard and tackles from Kelly, McGrattan, Savage and Og Burns prevented further shots at goals. However, a lapse in concentration in midfield allowed Hillsborough to get the ball wide and from the resulting cross, the ball was in the back of the Downpatrick net.
Not to be deterred, the boys were again dominating play, Fitzsimmons, Breen, Artt were all getting on the ball, Bolton played the ball out to Artt on the wing, he went past two players and cut in from the left wing and unleashed a shot from an acute angle and scored to make it 6 – 4 to Downpatrick. Again the Hillsborough Boys did not lie down, a quick break and a smart finish allowed them to score.
Downpatrick pushed forward again and they came close, but, the Hillsborough keeper pulled off a good save. The game was nearly over when Hillsborough Boys scored what was the best goal of the game. A thirty yard shot into the top corner, which Connolly could do nothing about it to make the final scoreline 6 – 6.
A great advert for attacking football and the neutral spectator. Absolutely delighted with the boys and the performance they put in; lot more positives, than negatives, but plenty of room for improvement. Steps in the right direction for the boys, there first ever match at a higher standard of football than they had encountered before.
Downpatrick: D Connolly, C Gardiner, N Maguire, S Og Burns, B Kennedy, E Breen, E Artt, J Fitzsimons, T Savage, D McDowell, O Bolton, L Toner, C Jones, A McGrattan, G Kelly, C Rogan