Match report- NCIC 3- 3 Ballymoney high school
Last Friday the U14 football team battled to a hard earned point against Ballymoney high school away. The forecast carried yellow weather warnings but the only storm in the first half was brought by the NCIC players. Lewis Stevenson was lightning quick on the wing and put us ahead with a beautiful goal, coming in off the wide position and latching on to a perfectly weighted ball played by the front man, Daniel Greer who held the ball up superbly throughout the first half.
After taking the lead NCIC looked comfortable, passing the ball well in midfield and controlling the game through good movement, passing and communication from all players. Just before half time we were dealt a thunderbolt blow, by a fantastic finish from the Ballymoney high school striker who smashed the ball straight into the top corner with his left foot. As good as Dylan Laverty played on the day, 6 goal keepers would have struggled to have kept that one out.
Going into half time at 1-1 was frustrating given the quality of our play but our team responded well going into the second half. Changing a few things around, Kyle Crawford came on in the second half as a super sub and quickly nudged NCIC back into the lead with a calm finish after a spell of Ballymoney pressure. The celebration with Kyle and the rest of the players was one of the highlights of the season so far with glee resonating throughout the team. The positive impact that Kyle had on the game was even more impressive, considering he received a fractured thumb just a few days previous! True NCIC spirit!
Shortly after we re-took the lead, the storm picked up, both the rain and the Ballymoney high school players started to put the NCIC team under real pressure. After about 10 minutes of sustained pressure, Ballymoney equalised with a well taken left footed finish again from their front man. At 2-2 the game looked like it could have gone either way with both teams creating chances and both keepers doing what they needed to keep their teams in the game. With about 10 minutes left to play the rain and wind had really started to pound down on both teams creating really difficult playing conditions, Ballymoney, to their credit, hung in and managed to get a late goal with 5 minutes remaining. This was a tough blow to take, having victory in sight for most of the game, looking at the possibility of leaving with no points was really tough to take for both the players and the NCIC manager. A quick rallying call came from captain fantastic, Sam Watton, who motivated the players to push hard for the equaliser in the dying minutes, despite the hard-hitting playing conditions.
With just seconds left on the clock the NCIC players got themselves one last chance, a corner, just before injury time was to begin. The ball was whipped into the box and fell to the feet of central midfielder Bobby- Jack who buried the chance sending the NCIC players into pandemonium as they celebrated with their team mates. With the game all but settled there was just enough time for either side to win it, Balymoney broke straight from the kick off and the ball fell again to their centre forward, who created havoc all game, this time Reece McCloskey provided a match saving challenge right at the end to earn what truly was a well-deserved, hard fought point.
NCIC will push on in their effort to reach the semi-finals of the A league with a must win fixture against Dalriada this Thursday.