U17s reach Mid Ulster final by seeing off Swifts

MONEYSLANE U17s reached the final of the Mid Ulster Knockout Shield after beating a dogged Markethill Swifts team at Cheney Park last Saturday.

Slane started this game like a train on fire and within minutes they had a great chance when Andy Bickerstaff played Stevie Adair through only for Adair to put the ball just the wrong side of the post.

This was only the start of things to come.

The partnership between Bickerstaff and Adair up front was to pay dividends on 17 minutes. Bickerstaff picked up the ball, played it back to Smyth who lobbed the ball over the defence and it bounced once and Adair swung his left leg and fired in an unstoppable shot into the net.

This was just what Slane deserved. Slane continued to cause the Swifts a lot of problems all over the pitch.

Then Slane were dealt a body blow when the Swifts were rewarded a corner which was swung in into the box and a Swifts player ended up on the ground. The referee gave a penalty for a push much to the frustration of the players and management. The Swifts number two stepped up and slotted the ball past the Slane keeper Adam Roland to level the game.

Slane continued to put pressure on the Swifts defence and with five minutes of the half left Curtis Gibson was one on one with the keeper only for his fine lob to just go over the bar.

Slane had to make a switch when Bickerstaff had to come off with an injury. On came Matthew Ervine. Boyd went to the left wing and Bain joined Adair up top.

At half time Slane had to make another switch with McMullan coming off and Gareth McCabe replaced him at right back.

The second half was a strange one. Slane found themselves going 2-1 down on 40 minutes. The Slane heads went down for a stage as they thought this game was getting away from them. On 45 minutes there was a mix up in the defence and the Swifts striker found himself with an empty net to make it three one.

Slane were now pushing the Swifts back and had a couple of half chances. With six minutes remaining Slane made their final substitution with Jason Crawford entered the affray

Slane went to a three man back line as they went in search for two goals. Jason Crawford was only one minute on the pitch and he found himself one on one with the keeper and he slotted the ball past the Swifts keeper.

This was to be the spark that ignited the Slane comeback. With two minutes left on the clock Slane got a corner. The corner was swung in by Matthew Ervine and up rose Matthew Smyth to head the ball into the Swifts net to take the game into extra time.

Slane made their dominance count early in extra time and three minutes in Slane took the lead with Kurtis Bain scoring and well taken goal to put Slane in front. Two minutes later the hard working Curtis Gibson got his goal to make it 5-3.

Then three minutes later Slane were awarded a penalty and up stepped the dead ball specialist Matthew Ervine to fire in an unstoppable shot past the keeper.

Slane continued to put pressure on the Swifts team but couldn’t add to their tally in the second half of extra time.

Slane will now play the final on April 27. That will be two finals in two days for the Slane with their Senior First team playing on the Friday night in the Alan Wilson cup final.

It was very hard to pick a Man of Match as it was a great team performance of the day. Kurtis Bain and Stevie Adair were outstanding. Matthew Smyth and Matthew Ervine dominated the midfield and the defence was solid the whole game.

The two players that stood out the most was Curtis Gibson who in my opinion had his best game in a Slane shirt all season and Ross Kerr whose never give up attitude ran through the rest of the players when it really mattered.