Young guns bow out

COLERAINE Youths bowed out of the UEFA Youth League as they were beaten by the impressive KRC Genk in Belgium…

The Bannsiders went into the contest knowing the scale of the task at hand as they lost 4-0 at The Showgrounds a week previous.

The hosts started where they left off as they showed their intent early doors as Deniz Arabaci had an effort turned around the post by Billy McDowell. However, from the resulting corner kick, Genk took the lead as Raf Smekens got a vital touch to steer the ball home.

A touch of class from the Belgians would see them doubling their lead as a clever ball from Sam De Grand found the run of Thomas Claes and the midfielder rifled an effort into the top corner.

The Stripes had their first sight of goal on 32 minutes as a free-kick delivery wasn’t cleared by Genk and the ball landed at the feet of Garbhan Feeney who couldn’t find the target.

After Arabaci blazed over the crossbar, the same player would make it 3-0 on 35 minutes as the winger danced into the box before sending the ball beyond the reach of McDowell and into the bottom corner.

Just before the half-time whistle, Genk would add a fourth as a lovely combination between Rotundo and Sami Sakkali allowed the latter to blast the ball into the net from close range.

A personal battle would then ensue between ‘keeper McDowell and Rotundo as the Bannsiders number one would twice deny the winger from adding to the scoreline. On 59 minutes, Genk would threaten again as Sakkali hit the side netting after being picked out by Rotundo.

Marty Smith shuffled his pack by bringing on Shea Curran, Luke Kelly and Daniel Smyth and they grabbed a consolation goal on 69 minutes as Jack Patton struck into the bottom corner after a neat lay off by Zac Dealey.

Genk would immediately go on the attack as Campbell hooked a clearance off the line before McDowell held a low effort from Arabaci. The shot stopper proved his worth yet again as he got a toe to Sakkali’s strike to prevent the striker from making it 5-1.

Smyth was proving to be a useful outlet for the Bannsiders and the substitute went within a whisker of netting a memorable strike. The teenager robbed the Belgian defence, strode forward and hit a thunderbolt which forced Vic Chambaers into a top class save.

On 85 minutes, Arabaci would grab his second of the afternoon and in fine style. The Belgian youth international received the ball from an acute angle and did the rest as he fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

Before the full-time whistle, Coleraine would have another opportunity as Patton and Feeney combined to send Luke Kelly through on goal but his daisycutter was gathered by Chambaers.

A cruel late sixth would arrive for the hosts as a cross into the box was headed back by Reece Watton who misjudged the direction of the ball as it went into the net for an own goal.

A difficult afternoon for the Bannsiders but a European campaign filled with plenty of hope and promise for the future.

KRC GENK: Chambaere, Martens (Baskale ‘46 mins), Cauwel, Al Mazyani (Manguelle ’61 mins), De Grand, Michiels, Arabaci, Claes, Sakkali, Smekens, Rotundo.

Subs Not Used: De Boeck (GK), Pieklak (GK), Rommens, Van de Perre.

COLERAINE YOUTHS: McDowell, Stewart (Curran ’46 mins), Campbell, Dealey, Stinson, Callaghan (Kelly ’46 mins), Cullen (Smyth ’61 mins), Patton, Moffatt (Mackay ’77 mins), Feeney, Doherty (Watton ’77 mins).

Subs Not Used: Donnelly (GK), Dennison.

Referee: Viktor Shimusik (Belarus)