U18s Win SuperCupNI Final
Friday, 29th Jul 2022 21:58 by Jude Gale
Town’s U18s carried off the first silverware of the season by defeating County Antrim 4-2 in the final of the Premier Section of SuperCupNI at the Ballymena Showgrounds this evening.
Dominant performances throughout the week and a win from behind in the semi-final against Mexican side Club Puebla saw the Blues face-off in a game that would prove to be a formidable victory for the U18s. Town were successful in defeating County Antrim thanks to goals from Nico Valentine, Ben Haddoch, Jack Manly and Gerrard Buabo.
The Tractor Boys had gained a two-goal lead 20 minutes into the game but the Northern Irish outfit grabbed two back before half-time to make it level pegging. A third and fourth for Ipswich came in the second half, which put the SuperCupNI final to bed.
The game got off to a quick start as both sides had chances in the first five minutes. It only took Town eight minutes to open up the scoring. An inspired solo run from Valentine, drifting in from the right wing, ended with a calmly-placed shot into the far corner.
The Blues kept this level of intensity and largely dominated play from that point on. In the 10th minute, strong attacking play again from Valentine was halted when he was fouled on the edge of the box.
Goalkeeper Woody Williamson also had a moment to shine, quickly running out of his goal to prevent a potential equaliser.
However, it wasn’t long before Valentine saw himself involved in a second goal, this time providing an assist 20 minutes in for Haddoch as he powered the ball, on the turn, into the bottom left. A few minutes later and the Tractor Boys were back at it with some great link-up play, unfortunate not to score a third.
As it all started to look like one-way traffic, Antrim fought back strongly. Within eight minutes of Town’s second goal, they managed to get one back. An unfortunate error from Harry Barbrook let in Antrim’s Sean Moore who scored at the near post with Williamson left with little chance to prevent it.
The momentum didn’t appear to change hands as Antrim kept the pressure going and even managed to get an equaliser in the 33rd minute. A cross into the penalty area, miscontrolled by Calum Logan allowed a patient but clinical finish again from Moore.
Despite conceding twice in quick succession, Ipswich were unlucky not to finish the first half ahead. Shortly before the break, Ash Boatswain had a potential goal narrowly denied by the post, following a cross from Harry Barbrook.
The sides went in level at half-time of the game played over two periods of 35 minutes with the score standing at 2-2. There was one change for Ipswich at the break with keeper Williamson making way for Danny Cullum.
As the second half began, both teams looked threatening in the attack but it was Ipswich who were the first to breach the final third when Finley Barbrook played the ball out to Jack Manly, whose curled effort was just wide of the right post.
County Antrim almost got a third when a thunderbolt of a long shot crashed against the crossbar.
But in the 46th minute the young Blues put themselves ahead again after Ash Boatswain played into Finley Barbrook, who set up Jack Manly to slot the ball home.
Valentine yet again found himself expertly dribbling through County Antrim’s defensive line before getting a shot off at the edge of the box which forced the keeper into action to push it out for a corner.
An end-to-end first 20 minutes in the second half saw Logan bravely deflecting an on-target shot out for a corner with his head.
As the game approached the 60th minute, a fatal miscommunication between Antrim’s defender and their goalkeeper led to a misplaced back pass towards an open goal which Buabo was the quickest to react to, and the forward put the game to bed.
Town started to regain control within the last 15 minutes and the front three were combining threateningly in the final third.
A low driven cross from Buabo found Boatswain in the penalty area, whose shot was blocked by Antrim’s defence to keep the scoreline at a two-goal deficit.
The young Ipswich side’s win in the final of the SuperCupNI Premier Section brings home their first silverware of the season and the club’s first ever SuperCupNI trophy.
U18s: Woody Williamson (Danny Cullum 35), Nick Nkansa-Dwamena, Finn Steele, Calum Logan, Harry Barbrook, Paul Moodie (Revin Domi 65), Ben Haddoch, Nico Valentine, Finley Barbrook (Gerrard Buabo 50), Ash Boatswain, Jack Manly (Afi Adebayo 57).
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