Trophies keep coming for Youth Academy sides

ANOTHER successful season came to an end at Ballymena United's Youth Academy on Saturday. United's Under 16 completed a marvellous Lisburn Youth League treble with a 2-1 win against fellow Irish League side Crusaders to win the Lisburn Youth Cup.

A large crowd watched manager Nigel Law's and coach Stephen O'Neill's charges come from a goal down to win 2-1 after extra time in a very entertaining game.

This is the second year in succession that a United team has won a treble in the Lisburn Youth League, Stewart Neill's Under 12's doing a terrific treble last season.

It has been a busy week for trophies at Ballymena United with the Under 16s winning the Lisburn League Championship last Saturday and the Under 10s winning the South Belfast Youth League Championship.

The Under 10s celebrated their achievement with a 7-3 victory over Glentoran on Wednesday at the Showgrounds where the young United stalwarts received a very sporting guard of honour from the Glentoran coaches and players as they entered the pitch.

The other pleasing aspect of the successes was that they were obtained their trophies playing the "right way", excellent passing football.

A number of the Under 16 squad have played many times this season for United's Youth and Reserve teams and if Ballymena United nurture the talent in the future United will have many talented footballers from the local area in the first team squad, a desire that United manager Roy Walker and the Board have as a key objective for the future.

The United coaches and players would like to thank the large following of United supporters, more used to watching United's first team on a Saturday afternoon, who came along and gave them tremendous vocal support and encouragement in the final.

With the season now at an end, the Youth Academy will shortly engage in a series of training / trials nights for the Ballymena United teams for next season. Details will be released soon for these nights, where all boys will be welcome to come along and earn a place in the Ballymena United teams for next season.

UNDER-16

Ballymena United 2, Crusaders 1 (aet): A great comeback from Ballymena and a splendid winning goal saw them complete a fantastic treble and ensure that their season ended on a high!

The first goal was always going to be crucial and it went to Crusaders who worked a neat thrown in and moved the ball quickly into the box for the striker to turn and finish neatly into the bottom corner.

Ballymena lost their way for a few minutes, giving the ball away cheaply and failing to dominate off the ball as they did for most of the game.

Manager Nigel Law changed his formation to a 4-4-2 and Ballymena began to retake the advantage as they got in behind the Crues but couldn't find a finishing touch.

With 11 minutes left, Price pushed forward from left back and his ball found Aaron McGreggor at the edge of the box who lifted the ball over the defender and drove at goal, rounding the goalkeeper but being fouled before he could pull the trigger. The referee rightly pointed to the spot and Archie Quinn stepped up to make it 1-1 and set up a tense last 10 minutes.

Ballymena were well on top but couldn't force a winner in normal time, but with just two minutes gone in Extra Time, McGreggor slipped the ball to Peter Duffin who turned the Centre Back sharply and sent a cracking effort across goal and into the net to seal a dramatic win and a Man of the Match performance.