Archive for July 27th, 2017

SuperCupNI Day 3

July 27, 2017

My final day at the tournament started in familiar fashion, a trip to Clough to take in a game with a legendary home-made soup at half-time.

At the end of the second day four teams were on six points, Club NI, Man Utd, Cherry Orchard and Chivas. To qualify for the SuperCup semi finals Rangers needed at least one of them to fail to win their third game and of course make sure they won theirs.

Cherry Orchard were playing GPS Bayern and having seen both these sides I knew this would be close. Having watched Southampton being well beaten by Cherry Orchard I was assuming a win for Man Utd in their meeting. The word on Chivas were they were physical and looked older than the Under 16 age group, on that basis I guessed they would beat Sheffield Utd. I was hearing Club NI (basically a NI U15’s select) were impressive but thought a clash with an older Middlesborough side would be a stiff test, more on that later. The game at Clough was between Plymouth Argyle and NC Elite from North Carolina.

Plymouth Argyle 0 NC Elite 1

NC Elite dominated this encounter but only won by the single goal with Plymouth showing little in attack. The Americans took an early lead after only five minutes, David Molina attacked down the left and he passed inside to Ian Holdaway who beat Shaun Hillier low to his right from the edge of the box. Just over five minutes later David Molina latched on to a clearance and broke into the left side of the box and went wide of Shaun Hillier but his net bound shot was headed off the line by Alfie Wotton.

Half-Time:- Plymouth Argyle 0 NC Elite 1

Plymouth had shown nothing in attack in the first half but five minutes after the break Kieran Rowe cut in from the right and his effort forced Trace Alphin to dive to his left and turn the ball wide. As is the norm the second half is notable for the number of substitutions, it was into the final ten minutes when the American side created a couple more chances.

Cole Frame hit the right hand byline and pulled the ball back for Ian Holdaway but he shot over from close range. The final chance came when Adam Armour dispossessed Alfie Wotton on the edge of the Plymouth penalty area with Shaun Hillier coming from his line to block with his legs.

Full-Time:- Plymouth Argyle 0 NC Elite 1

Plymouth Argyle:- Shaun Hillier; Finley Craske, Oliver Tomlinson, Alfie Wotton, Reuben Collum; Jamie Simmonds (Owen Raven HT), Jude Boyd, Kieran Rowe, Jimmy Miller; Joe Seery (Jacob Evans 40 mins); Sam Wickens (Oscar Massey 40 mins).

Not Used:- Dominic Osborne, Lewis Moyle, Brandon Pursall.

NC Elite:- Trace Alphin; Cole Frame, Angelo Madrid, Jake O’Connor, Tanner Barry (Titus Sandy 55mins); Adam Armour (Kevan Kahoussi 59 mins), Sebastien Grundseth (Brian Mendoza 29 mins), Devon Faison, Orion Mills ((Aidan Dwyer 20 mins) Mikey Estrello 47 mins);  Ian Holdaway; David Molina.


Next stop was Broughshane for Middlesborough against the young Club NI side.


Middlesborough 1 Club NI 2

The young Ulster side edged it to finish as the only side on nine points, a great achievement for the youngest side in the tournament.

The first chance came for Club NI when a free kick into the penalty area broke for Lewis McKinnon to turn and shoot with Oliver Swan saving low to his left. The English side responded by taking the lead, Harry Healy went past a defender into the left side of the box and then wide of the keeper before firing into the net.

The equaliser came on the stroke of half-time and it was a sublime finish Sean McAllister played the ball to Connor Bradley inside the right side of the box, he flicked the ball over the head of a defender before lobbing Oliver Swan as he came off his line.

Half-Time:- Middlesborough 1 Club NI 1

Boro’ had a chance five minutes after the break when the ball broke to Hayden Hackney but he shot over. They came close still at the midpoint of the half when Joe Ridley’s twenty-five yarder bounced off Callum Taylor’s left hand post.

Almost immediately Ross McAusland latched on to a defensive slip and raced clear but his weak shot was straight at Oliver Swan. With four minutes remaining Club NI got a stroke of luck to secure the points, Vicky Saldanha’s shot from the edge of the box clipped the heel of team-mate Ross McAusland who was running across the box and the ball looped over Oliver Swan and into the net.

Full-Time:- Middlesborough 1 Club NI 2

Middlesborough:- Oliver Swan; Hugo Abrol (Jonathan Krakue 51 mins), Hayden Hackney, Andrew Nelson, Terry Stephenson; McKenzie Dicicco (Thomas Walker 40 mins), Issac Fletcher (Ben Cummins 40 mins), Cain Skyes, Sam Collins (Adam Campbell 47 mins); Harry Healy, Joe Ridley.

Not Used:- Samuel Barrett.

Club NI:- Callum Taylor; Charlie Allen (Joshua Archer HT), Lewis McKinnon, Sean Stewart, Stephen McGuiness; Connor Bradley, Ronan Kalla (Reece Byrne 50 mins), Orrin McLaughlin (Terry Devlin HT), Conor Byrne; Sean McAllister (Kian Storey HT); Matthew Lusty (Ross McAusland HT).

Not Used:- Aaron Donnelly.


My final game at the tournament was at Ballymena Showgrounds and it was Rangers third game against First Choice Soccer. By kick-off time word had filtered through that both Cherry Orchard and Chivas had lost 1-0, so a win meant Rangers would qualify for the SuperCup Semi Finals.

Rangers 2 First Choice Soccer 0

Rangers dominated against a side made up of players from America and Ireland, but the win wasn’t secure until Kai Kennedy’s late penalty. Unfortunately the squad list on the website didn’t match the shirt numbers so I wasn’t sure of the FC Soccer lineup.

Rangers first chance came on ten minutes, Kai Kennedy passed in from the left to Ciaran Dickson and he forced a save from the keeper. The spectators only had to wait a further five minutes for Rangers to take the lead, Matty Yates passed to Kai Kennedy and his superb pass matched the movement from Faisu Sangare to find him free inside the box to slot past the keeper.

Just before the break Kai Kennedy sent Faisu Sangare towards the right hand byline from his cutback Matty Yates effort was deflected over.

Half-Time:- Rangers 1 First Choice Soccer 0

Rangers missed a great chance to double their lead on forty-two minutes, Darren Watterson played the ball to Ryan Muir wide right and his cross picked out the head of Matty Yates but he headed wide of the keeper’s left hand post. A minute later Harris O’Connor was dispossessed allowing the FC Soccer striker a sight of goal but he shot straight at Jay Hogarth.

Rangers were soon back on attack with Kai Kennedy combining with Ciaran Dickson on the right side of the box before forcing a save from the keeper. Within a minute Ciaran Dickson capitalised on a defensive slip to break in to the box but shot straight at the keeper.

With four minutes remaining Rangers made the game secure with a second goal from the penalty spot. Kai Kennedy attacked the left side of the penalty area and was bundled over for a penalty that he stepped up to convert.

Full-Time;- Rangers 2 First Choice 0

Rangers:- Jay Hogarth; Ryan Muir (Aaron Bryson 59 mins), Ally Monro, Harris O’Connor, Euan Deveney; Murray Miller, Kyle McAusland; Ciaran Dickson (Tom Henderson 48 mins); Matty Yates (Simon Millar 52 mins), Faisu Sangare (Darren Watterson 37mins), Kai Kennedy (Robbie Fraser 56 mins).

Not Used:- Lewis Budinauckas (Gk), Callum Biggar.

FC Soccer Squad:- Sean O’Mara; Andrea Nguionza, Jackson Dixon, Jack Henry, Enda Douglas, Josh Mellon, Odhran Braniff, Eamon O’Brien, Mark Hanratty, Josh Hayes, Vincent Petera, Jack Kavanagh, Jamie Redmond, Eoghan O’Sullivan, Andrew Omobamidele, Job Bondo, Andrew Quinn, Gabriel Adebambo.


On the final whistle news came through that Man Utd had lost 2-0 to Sheffield United and Rangers had therefore finished second in the table to Club NI. To be honest the draw had been kind to Rangers with both Colina an FC Soccer failing to find the net in their three games.

Their opponents in tonight’s semi final, GPS Bayern, is a step up on the sides they have played so far and it should be a tight game. In the other semi it may be a big ask to expect Club NI to continue to beat older opponents, they line up against County Antrim who I haven’t seen but are traditionally the strongest of the Northern Irish county teams.

It was a great three days and now wish I had gone for the week, maybe next year. I was at two Irish League grounds in Ballymena and Colraine, three smaller enclosed grounds at Clough, Broughshane and Anderson Park, Colraine. What really impressed we were the public facilities at Ballymoney and Limavady, I can’t think of any of similar quality here in the West of Scotland.

Oh, and every game I watched was played on GRASS !!!



SuperCupNI Day 2

July 27, 2017

Tuesday started with another trip to Clough and the fantastic home-made soup on sale was only a small part in the decision. The real reason was the game between Southampton and a very impressive Dublin side Cherry Orchard.

Southampton 0 Cherry Orchard 2

Cherry Orchard had a great chance to take the lead in the opening minute, Sean Aluebhosele low cross on the right found Jamal Ibrahim inside the six yard box but he shot straight at Oliver Wright. The keeper was in action again five minutes later stretching to tip over a Luke Turner free-kick from the right hand angle of the box.

The Dublin side was dominating the early stages and when Conor Gilbert crossed from the left Sean Aluebhosele’s header was only just wide of the far post. Southampton eventually threatened at the other end, a good move involving Seamus Keogh, Daniel Jones and Dylan Morgan ended with Seamus Keogh shooting narrowly over.

Cherry Orchard were back on the attack and on twelve minutes Conor Gilbert’s cross from the left went beyond the back post where Issac Abankwah played the ball back across goal, Jamal Ibrahim looked certain to score but he shot over from close range. The breakthrough came four minutes before the break, Issac Abankwah broke forward from halfway before passing to Adam Cleary who shot past Oliver Wright in to is top right hand corner.

Half-Time:- Southampton 0 Cherry Orchard 1

Saints threatened  five minutes into the half when Jack Turner sent a free-kick from midway inside the Cherry Orchard half into the box and Will Tizzard got his head to it forcing a save  from Jimmy Corcoran high to his left. With just over ten minutes remaining Cherry Orchard sealed the win with a second goal, Conor Gilbert swung in a corner from the right for Jamie Whelan to head past the keeper.

Full-Time:- Southampton 0 Cherry Orchard 2

Southampton:- Oliver Wright; Seamus Keogh, Sam Bailey, Thomas Bragg (Will Tizzard 22 mins), Liam Short (Ethan Hill 26 mins); Seung Woo Yang; Daniel Jones, Roland Idowu (Jack Turner 34 mins), Dylan Morgan (Mikey Saunders 34 mins) , Dylan Duffy; Frank Lovett (Luke Hallett 44 mins).

Not Used:- Nicholas Komey.

Cherry Orchard:- Jimmy Corcoran; Kevin Donovan, Ben Keegan, Luke Turner, Conor Gilbert; Danny Kelch (Karl Delaney 51 mns), Jamie Whelan, Adam Cleary (Cormac Rafferty 51 mins), Issac Abankwah (Ross Quigley 51 mins); Sean Aluebhosele (Zack Furey 38 mins), Jamal Ibrahim (Kyle Cosgrove 40 mins).

Not Used:- Adam Bennett, Stephen Egan, 


Next up would be a trip to Ballymoney for the Premier Section (U18) game between County Armagh and Komazawa University from Japan. The previous games, and the competition Rangers are playing in, is the Junior Section (U16). This game would be two 35 minute periods ( Junior Section is two 30 minute periods)

Komazawa Uni FC 0 County Armagh 0

This was a fairly even game with a draw being a fair result, the Japanese side had the first real chance after a quarter-hour. Yuya Hashimoto  passed to Sota Kobayashi inside the left side of the penalty area with Liam Hughes quick from his line to make the block. Within a minute Mark Lukas replied for County Armagh with a twenty-five yarder just wide of the keeper’s right hand post.

Around the twenty-minute mark  a free kick was delivered from the right and the referee spotted an off the ball foul on Luke Wilson and pointed to the spot, Ryan Latifi stepped up but was foiled by a brilliant save from Riki Toriyama diving low to his right.

The second half was punctuated with numerous substitutions from both sides. There was nine minutes remaining when Andrew McAlinden chased a Lee Upton clearance towards the right hand byline and when he sent in his cross the ball bounced of the face of the crossbar. Kamazawa had a great chance to win it right at the end, Liam Hughes just getting a foot to Kazumi Hoshima’s low ball from the right with Taga Obi waiting to pounce.

Full-Time:- Komazawa Uni FC 0 County Armagh 0


Next stop was Limavady for Rangers second game against Colina from Chile who had lost 3-0 to Manchester United the previous night.

Colina 0 Rangers 5

It was a comfortable win for Rangers side against a poor Chilean team that failed to score in their three games and never seriously threatened the Rangers goal. Rangers opened the scoring on nine minutes with Kai Kennedy crossing from the left for Faisu Sangare to head past the keeper.

The second goal followed three minutes later, a great Matty Yates through ball on the right side of the box was matched by Faisu Sangare’s turn to create the space to shoot past the keeper. Rangers third came just after the twenty-minute mark, Kai Kennedy passing in from the left for Ciaran Dickson to shoot across the keeper and into the net.

Half-Time:- Colina 0 Rangers 3

Five minutes after the break Kyle McLelland powered a header when Matty Yates delivered a corner from the right with Christopher Rios producing a fine point-blank save. Rangers fourth came midway through the half, a superb Kai Kennedy free-kick from the right hand angle of the box into the keeper’s top right hand corner.

The scoring was complete five minutes before the end when Darren Watterson played the ball forward to Simon Millar who continued into the left side of the box to shoot past the keeper.

Full-Time:- Colina 0 Rangers 5

Colina:- Christopher Rios; Felipe Laso, Bastien Puchi, Rodrigo Vergara, Benjamin Reyes; Felipe Orostica; Jesus Bravo, Fernando Urzua; Simon Diaz, Cristobal Miranda, Miguel Montecinos.

Subs:- Thomas Ceron, Gabriel Rivera, Cristobal Valencia, Benjamin Segovia, Benjamin Campos, Moises Perez, Dylan Oklguin.

Rangers:- Lewis Budinauckas; Ryan Muir (Callum Biggar HT), Ally Monro, Harris O’Connor, Darren Watterson; Murray Miller, Kyle McLelland; Ciaran Dickson (Robbie Fraser HT); Matty Yates (Tom Henderson 40 mins), Faisu Sangare (Aaron Bryson HT), Kai Kennedy (Simon Millar 45 mins).

Not Used:- Jay Hogarth (Gk), Euan Deveney.



SuperCupNI Day One

July 27, 2017

A visit to the Milk Cup (now known as SuperCupNI) has been on my list for a number of years and this year I finally made it. Attending Monday through to Wednesday I intended to post a kind of diary of the three days, hopefully attending three games each day.

We didn’t get off to the best of starts when a major queue at the car hire desk meant when we arrived at Clough to take in the Swindon Town v North Dublin Schoolboy League match the game was ten minutes old. Apparently Swindon had struck the woodwork twice in that opening spell. The rest of the match was pretty even with a couple of chances at either end but neither side could make the break through and the game finished goalless.

A trip to check into the hotel in Ballymena and a change to more appropriate attire for the sunny weather and it was off to Anderson Park in Coleraine. On arrival I discovered notepad and pen was back at the hotel. The game was a bit of a mis-match with the impressive GPS Bayern from the US winning comfortably against M Sports New Zealand by three goals to nil. After being fed and sourcing pen and paper it was off to Coleraine Showgrounds for Rangers first game.

Rangers 1 County Armagh 1

It was a disappointing performance and result from the Ibrox youngsters in a game they should have won. 

Rangers started well and with only two minutes on the clock Harris O’Connor picked out Matty Yates on the right side of the box and his volley was only just too high. A few minutes later Kai Kennedy fed Faisu Sangare but again the effort, this time from the edge of the box, was just too high.

When the game reached the ten minute mark County Armagh striker Alberto Balde turned on the left hand byline before shooting across the face of goal. Rangers were soon back on the front foot with Kai Kennedy passing to Euan Deveney on the left, he cut inside before testing David Walsh.

Within sixty seconds Rangers grabbed the lead, from Matty Yates pass over the defence and into the right side of the box Faisu Sangare capitalised on hesitation in the Armagh defence to shoot past David Walsh. Rangers missed a great chance to increase their lead three minutes later, Kai Kennedy’s pass split the defence and sent Darren Watterson racing clear, he continued into the box but was denied when David Walsh came from his line to make the block.

Rangers next opportunity came when Kai Kennedy combined with Ryan Muir on the right to create a chance for Matty Yates that forced David Walsh into a diving save low to his right.

Half-Time:- Rangers 1 County Armagh 1

An inspired substitution was the source of an early equaliser after the break, Shane Adamson swung in a corner from the right and substitute Harry Anderson rose highest to head past Lewis Budinauckas. Rangers were soon back on attack with Matty Yates passing to Kai Kennedy, he drove forward and  a good run from Simon Millar created the space for Kai Kennedy to shoot from the edge of the box but David Walsh was a match for it saving low to his left.

Rangers continued to have the bulk of the play but the game had entered the final couple of minutes when Matty Yates chased a ball from Kai Kennedy to the left hand byline, he forced his way past a defender but couldn’t beat David Walsh at his near post from a narrow angle.

Rangers had one final chance when the ball broke to Simon Millar inside the box but he couldn’t get a proper connection on his shot and David Walsh saved comfortably.

Full-Time:- Rangers 1 County Armagh 1

Rangers:- Lewis Budinauckas; Ryan Muir (Aaron Bryson 59 mins), Kyle McLelland, Harris O’Connor, Euan Deveney; Murray Miller; Ciaran Dickson, Kai Kennedy; Matty Yates, Faisu Sangare (Ally Monro 44 mins), Darren Watterson (Simon Millar 38 mins).

Not Used:- Jay Hogarth (Gk), Callum Biggar, Tom Henderson, Robbie Fraser.

County Armagh:- David Walsh; Jesse Carson, Caolan Connell, Shea Conway; Jack Scott,  Chris Hutchinson, Harry Evans, Adam Wright, Shane Adamson (Dane McCullough 59 mins); Alberto Balde, John McGovern (Harry Anderson HT). 

Not Used:- Jason Dodds, Jamie Haire, James Black, Matthew Willis, Sam Monaghan.