A sun drenched Millbridge hosted a Border Cup first round tie against Groomsport who were visiting the ground for the second time in a fortnight. Manager Glynn Robinson went into the game without at least half a dozen regulars and he also chose to give full debuts to teenagers Conor Graham and Johnny Shannon leaving another three regulars on the bench. Also making his debut was goalkeeper Niall Tyndall whose handling was excellent throughout.
The early exchanges were fairly even however United started to dominate creating numerous openings through the efforts of Greg Allison on the right and Alex Burtney on the left. In central midfield Gavin Crawford and Jordan Hayes worked tirelessly while the new but very effective defensive line out of Johnny Shannon, Conor Graham, Ben Wilson and Davy Boal looked solid. Having spurned a number of decent scoring opportunities which included several excellent saves by the visiting keeper United took the lead on 25 minutes when Ian McMullan tapped in from close range following a goal mouth scramble.
On the half hour mark United were awarded a penalty when Johnny Stevenson was bundled over. The big striker dusted himself down and took the spot kick however it was well saved by the Groomsport keeper down to his right hand side.
Five minutes later Groomsport broke on the right wing and although their forward looked offside he smashed a shot past Tyndall to make the score 1 – 1 at half time.
Early in the second half manager Glynn Robinson made a few planned substitutions bringing Alan Patterson on in defence and Jack Davis in midfield.
In the 55th minute Ian McMullan ran onto a pass from Stevenson and slotted the ball into the net. Minutes later Jack Forbes was brought into the action and he pounced on a loose ball to head the ball into the net to make it 3 – 1.
On the hour mark it was 4 – 1 as Ian McMullan got his hat trick when he intercepted a back pass to run past the keeper and slot the ball home.
Jack Forbes, Jack Davis and Alex Burtney were making a nuisance of themselves across midfield as they latched onto clearance after clearance feeding numerous passes into the penalty area.
Forbes got his second goal when he and Stevenson combined for the latter to fire the ball into the net form ten yards and the hard working Stevenson got a deserved goal when he ghosted into the penalty area to take the ball past the tackles of several defenders to shoot home.
The score line of 6 – 1 was a deserved result for the home side who worked tirelessly throughout. Groomsport never gave up at any time and played some neat football at times.
There is no match this week due to the Northern Ireland International so the next action is expected to be on Saturday 15th September.
United entertained Mossley YM at Millbridge last Saturday and following what was a good day’s work they turned in a 3-0 win which gives if they repeat this performance in their remaining games they might just escape relegation.
This game burst into life in the 20th minute when Johnny Stevenson slammed home a shot from around the penalty spot during a scramble in the Mossley penalty area.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser but they created little and the defensive barrier of Davis, Patterson, Dickson and Stuart McMullan provided a platform for this victory given their straightforward approach to clearing their lines. John McMenamin provided a safe pair of hands in the goalkeeper position.
United’s midfield of Ian McMullan, Gavin Crawford, Ben Wilson and Scott Brashaw held the ball comfortably with Brashaw linking effectively with forwards Ross Murray and Johnny Stevenson.
In the second half United came out with a purpose not only to defend their lead but also to increase their it and it was teenager Ross Murray who as a constant thorn in the Mossley defence scored United’s second on 50 minutes when he smashed the ball home after good work by Stevenson. Crawford went close minutes later when he shot over after a serious bit of misunderstanding in the visitors defence.
On the hour mark Murray made it 3 -0 when the Mossley defence waited for an offside call against Stevenson however he had never made any attempt to go for the ball and the quick thinking teenager scampered onto the loose ball to coolly finish past the goal keeper.
Sadly the game got rather physical in the latter parts of the game and manager Alan Davis replaced a few of his senior players because of the danger of them being sent off such was the provocation being dished out. Greg Allison, John Hill and Ben Onuoha came into the game and played excellently to maintain one of the few clean sheets of United’ season so far.
Ballynahinch United Swifts secured a derby win against Drumaness when the two teams played each other at the Assumption playing fields on Saturday. A hat trick from Alan Massey and another from Craig Tate gave them a valuable three points.
Despite the atrocious weather United travelled to Dromara on Saturday for the derby game against Ballynahinch Olympic who are riding high at the top of NAFL Division 1B. The fact that games between United and Olympic at first team level have only come into being in the last two seasons despite the clubs having existed for over 40 years each means that this derby does not have the same atmosphere as others.
Nevertheless both teams approached the game with very much a want to win approach. United have been showing good form in recent weeks with wins against Rosario YC and Sirocco Works so they came into the game with a certain confidence.
After a scoreless first half it was United who drew first blood when Johnny Stevenson opened the scoring however Ryan Molly levelled things up just after the hour mark and that was the way things finished.
The Swifts got back to action with a trip to Killyleagh for this Harry Cup tie against Rossglass.
The star of the show was undoubtedly forward Johnny Stevenson who helped himself to 4 (four) goals however this was by no means an easy victory as the Swifts were behind until just before half time.
The first twenty five minutes were evenly fought until Johnny Stevenson broke free on the right wing before rifling a shot past Ross Preece in the Rossglass goal – video below.
Rossglass countered and within a relatively short space of time they were 3-1 ahead, however experienced campaigners Gareth Bingham and Johnny Stevenson levelled before half time. Bingham scored with a superb drive (below) while Stevenson’s pace and strength allowed him to break free and volley home.
In the second half the Swifts scored three unanswered goals through an own goal from an Alan Massey free kick and two more from Johnny Stevenson.
The Swifts got back to league action with a home fixture at Drumaness Council Ground against league newcomers Banbridge YC. In a lively first half the Swifts took the lead from the penalty spot when Alan Massey converted after Aaron McCaffrey had been felled in the penalty area.
The visitors equalised with a shot from 25 yards and then took the lead when defender Ross Bingham was unlucky to head past keeper Johnny McGreevy. The Swifts got level when Graeme McMullan, on for the injured Johnny Stevenson, equalised.
David Kelly who was controlling midfield along with Gareth Bingham gave the home side the lead when he carried the ball half the length of the pitch before despatching a shot from twenty yards into the roof of the net.
In the second half the Swifts took control of the game with their defence of Ross Bingham, Glynn Robinson, Scott McNeill and John McMenamin performing in a more controlled manner while Greg Allison caused mayhem on the ring wing. Stuart Wilcox made the score 4-2 when he latched onto Alan Massey’s free kick and Graeme McMullan headed home a cross from Greg Allison to close the scoring at 5-2.
This was a good performance from an almost full strength side which saw the return from injury of Shaun Bonner when he made a second half appearance.
The Swifts play their first game of the season at Millbridge this week when they entertain Valley Rangers 3rds.