COLERAINE would have a brilliant weekend as all three NIFL Academy League teams were successful…
NIFL Academy U16
Coleraine 2-1 Cliftonville
Coleraine welcomed Cliftonville to The Showgrounds for their final home game of Section A.
Coleraine started brightly and took the lead when a Devine delivery from a corner evaded everyone and ended up in the net. However, Cliftonville responded and drew level, but soon after, Smyth was on hand to restore the Bannsiders’ lead.
There was plenty of effort in the second half but weather conditions made things difficult for both teams. Coleraine managed to see the game out and the three points secured them a top four finish that will see them compete in the top section in the New Year.
Coleraine round off their first half of the season when they make the trip to Ballymena United next Saturday.
SQUAD: Donnelly, McIntyre, Kirk, Dennison, R. Moffat, Armstrong, J. Moffat, Moore, Devine, KC, Smyth, McToal, Oplhert, Gault, McGlynn, Martin.
NIFL Academy U18
Cliftonville 0-3 Coleraine
Coleraine travelled to Solitude on Friday for this top-two clash in section A. The first game between the sides provided a highly entertaining 3-3 draw so another exciting encounter was expected.
Coleraine started well and had good control of the game. There wasn’t many clear cut chances in the first half, although Elliot fired just wide and Cullen shot hit a defender when it looked to be goal bound. At the other end, Cliftonville had a chance but their striker fired over the bar.
The Stripes started the second-half well and within five minutes they created a good chance but unfortunately for the visitors Cullen pulled his shot wide.This was a sign of things to come though as on 50 minutes the Bannsiders took a deserved lead. A good cross from Stewart was headed back across the goal by McAlesse for the on rushing Patton to powerfully head home off the underside of the bar.
This goal allowed the Coleraine side to grow and they further tightened their grip when on 65 minutes Patton again scored after great work by Cullen. The Bannsiders were well in control but still had to be alert to the threat of a Cliftonville team who were pushing for a way back into the game.
The game was made safe 15 minutes from time when a good delivery from McAlesse from a free kick wide on the right was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Cliftonville defender.
An excellent performance from the young Coleraine side that sees them win Section A and they can look forward to the second half of the season when the top four sides from Section A joins the top four sides from Section B in what promises to be a tough but exciting league.
SQUAD: Henry, Stewart, McBride, Campbell, Dealey, Callaghan, Keogh, McAlesse, Elliot, Cullen, Patton, Moffat, Kelly, Kyle, Smyth, Greer.
NIFL Academy U20
Linfield 0-2 Coleraine
Coleraine made the trip to Belfast for the second time in a week. It was Glentoran in midweek and now Linfield at Midgely Park.
The first half was a tight affair with plenty of effort but not much in the way of chances. Linfield had the majority of the ball and moved it around well but they where restricted to efforts from distance that Shiels in the Coleraine goal was able to deal with. At the other end, Coleraine had a few counter attacks of their own but never tested the Linfield keeper.
Coleraine came out in the second half with more purpose in attack and McFeely should have given them the lead but unfortunately put his effort the wrong side of the post. However, ten minutes into the second half, Coleraine did hit the front when McLaughlin who was pulled down inside the box stepped up and fired home the penalty.
Soon after, Coleraine doubled their lead when McLaughlin’s effort from a tight angle was saved by the Linfield goalkeeper but he could only push it into the path of the on rushing McConnell who had the simple task to tap home.
Linfield pushed hard and came forward trying to find a way back in the game but Coleraine’s defence stood firm with Shiels making some good stops.
A hard working performance provided a welcomed three points and a clean sheet.
SQUAD: Shiels, Riley, Tosh, Stinson, Curran, McNeill, McConnell, Houston, C.Kirk, McFeely, McLaughlin, Watton, Mackay, Doherty, A.Kirk, Quigley.