Man Utd U15 1-0 Co. Armagh U15
Scorer(s): Odubeko 12′ – N/A
Man Utd XI: Mastny; Hughes (Pleavin 7′), Mengi, Dodgson, Sharrock-Peplow; Smethurst, Woods; Wellens (Leavy 42′), Shoretire (Mayamona 57′), Elanga; Odubeko.
*George Wyatt also came on, at half-time.
Co. Armagh XI: Walsh; Carson, McCullough, Connell, Conway, Hutchinson, Scott, Evans (Wright), Willis, Balde, McGovern.
Man United’s under-15s progressed into the final of SuperCupNI’s second-tier Junior section, the SuperCupNI Globe.
Mipo Odubeko scored his third goal of the tournament in four games.
He almost netted after just 19 seconds, having a stinging drive palmed away from the Co. Armagh goalkeeper.
The Northern Irish side proved to be a physical challenge for United, but with some superb technical players, too. Alberto Balde was the pick of the Armagh bunch, a difficult-to-handle mix of power and technique.
Jack Scott almost connected with a Jesse Carson cross from a free-kick while Matthew Willis had a wonderful, floated shot dip just under the crossbar. United’s trialist ‘keeper, Ondrej Mastny, tipped it over for a corner.
Mastny was kept busy in the first half, continually tested by Balde. The United man didn’t look entirely comfortable at first, but came into his own as the game progressed.
He was responsible for keeping United in front, denying Balde in a one-on-one. A minute later, Harry Evans was fed through by a great Balde backheel, but he also failed to convert past Mastny, dragging his shot wide of the left post.
Scott hit a free-kick straight into the Czech’s hands. After Armagh had begun to take the game to United, the Reds had the chance to double their lead just before the break. Odubeko was clearly felled in the box as he rounded goalkeeper David Walsh.
Yet Walsh turned from villain to hero with a fantastic save from captain Teden Mengi’s penalty, the United number 4 looking for his fourth of SuperCupNI. The penalty was too central, but Walsh did well to keep it out.
A few minutes later, with one remaining in the first half, Walsh’s leg denied Anthony Elanga as the winger was through one-on-one with the Northern Irishman.
Shola Shoretire made headlines with a Man of the Match performance against Co. Fermanagh and, although quiet in the first half, was a major threat for Armagh in the second.
After excellent work from Odubeko on the right flank, powering past his opponent and then running inside near the byline, he pulled it back to Shoretire who’s shot was reasonably simple to deal with for Walsh.
Armagh’s Hutchinson should have been booked for a poor challenge on the 13-year-old as he ran away, evading the attempts of a number of Armagh players.
Teden Mengi was indeed booked for a late, poor challenge near the Armagh penalty area.
Kian Leavy, a trialist, had a shot from long range, but it was well wide and Walsh had it covered.
Adam Wright, an Armagh substitution, almost had an instantaneous impact, striking with power on the half-volley. Mastny’s save was equal to the shot, tipping it over for a corner.
Having been explosive in the first half, Balde’s influence was lesser in the second period, but with five minutes remaining, he was a couple of inches from equalising, having beaten Mastny.
United struggled to stay in front in the second half, but just about managed to do so, and will now play in the final of SuperCupNI Globe, the final section for the teams who finished 5th-8th in the initial stages.