Youth Cup Final - Friday April 7
Linfield 3 Ballinamallard Utd 0
Linfield took to the Stangmore Park pitch hoping to get their hands on the prestigious Harry Cavan Youth Cup for the first time since 2013. The wee Blues, in their change white strip, had an eclectic mix of personnel, with players from the Under 16s and 17s combining with the older lads to form a strong unit.
There was a cagey start with neither team exerting any control or composure on the bumpy surface. Linfield had the lion’s share of possession but were finding the Fermanagh men’s blanket defence difficult to break down. Route one proved to be the best way forward when Alex Moore launched a great kick into the opposition half on 23 minutes which 15 year old Adam Carroll latched on to. He outpaced the chasing defender, only to see his parting shot hit the side netting. Linfield forced a series of corners but they were stoutly defended by a resolute Mallards defence. Eventually, Linfield broke the deadlock on 32 minutes when Pablo Andrade swept in a fine corner for young Carroll to out jump the Ballinamallard custodian and glance home. The Windsor boys dominated the rest of the half but were unable to create any clear cut openings as the half time whistle sounded.
The Blues got the best lift they could possibly get to the second half when Newry lad Carroll struck again four minutes into the half. Linfield advanced down the left wing with Eamon Scannell and Jack Campbell combining well, but when the ball was only half cleared, Carroll pounced to strike home from 12 yards. Linfield continued to dominate proceedings throughout the half, with Ethan Taggart and then Tiernan Keenan going close, but it was left to Schoolboy international Scannell to put the cherry on the cake with a fine left footed finish, after more good work from Andrade on 76 minutes.
The game had now turned into a David v Goliath type scenario, with the boys from the Erne county facing an uphill battle to resurrect their hopes. Fortunately, Linfield kept their counterparts at bay, with Reece Neale having an excellent game marshalling the defence and going on to bring the trophy back to Windsor Park.
Man of the Match : Adam Carroll
Team : Moore, McComb, Campbell, Neale (capt) Keenan, Neilly, Andrade, Taggart, Strain, Carroll and Scannell Subs : Murray, O’Hare, Marcus, Herron and Quinn
Linfield Rangers coach