Glentoran U17’S 1-2 Linfield

Last Friday evening I had the privilege to attend an under 17 fixture between Linfield & Glentoran that was played at Seaview, home to Crusaders Football Club on the Shore Road. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the under 17’s manager Mr Michael Morrow for the kind invite initially extended to attend the game in the first place. I must confess that I would have possessed no knowledge whatsoever that this game was due to take place had Mr Morrow not got in contact.
Indeed, Mr Morrow alongside his excellent coaches – consisting of Mr Mark Porter, Mr Stuart Gallagher and of course the goalkeeping coach Mr Richard Gunning -whose company I have had the pleasure of being in on several previous occasions – are clearly doing a tremendous job with these promising young fellows, hopefully spearheading them along the righteous path that will eventually lead toward first team duties.

Sometimes, we at Glentoran tend to overlook the invaluable contribution that these men make – this, of course, is never done intentionally – but whilst we are quick of the mark to heap praise upon first & second team management for ‘the final breakthrough’ as a young promising individual makes his senior debut, the men whom nurtured him in those very early stages seldom receive the recognition that they should. We are all Guilty of this neglectfulness – myself included.

Getting back to events that unfolded at Seaview though on Friday evening – by gum, I can think of no better a way to spend a normally dull dreary Friday evening than being immensely entertained by a tremendous troop of young Glentoran players whom treated us all to real rip-roaring affair, a real roller-coaster of a game from the beginning right to the very end. Superb stuff, Gentlemen!

This first half commenced in the typical way that most ‘Big-two’ games are not just expected to but more or less almost demanded nowadays – fast flowing, end to end, not an inch given by either side! However, it happened to be ourselves that threw the cat in amongst the pigeons whereas a highly productive young lad called Jordan Arbuthnot – affectionately better known as ‘Chucky’, I am led to believe – commandeered a deft little touch on the right of the pitch that singled out his colleague, Josh Tipping – in close proximity, almost running likewise in tandem – Josh struck the ball with a vibrant pace toward the Linfield net, the ball seemingly swerved away from the left hand post in the last crucial split second just as it seemed we were on the verge of opening up the match! Fabulous effort from this young individual nevertheless!

Linfield though always looked dangerous – I recall a long throw in dispatched from the right menacingly arriving deep within our box – one of the boys in Blue attempted his luck at a volley, struck instantaneously, a fine effort that zoomed over our cross bar!

Yet another tremendous young prospect named Marty Tunnah, playing on the right, emphatically drove forth a splendidly timed precise deliverance all the way over to the far-left – this was eloquently brought under control by a young chap called Lee Currie whom proceeded to instinctively forward the ball practically onto the edge of the eighteen yard box – this, in turn, happened to be met by young ace ‘Chucky’ Arbuthnot whom drove a stinging drive at the Linfield target, however, in all fairness the young Blues custodian did not only do well to save, he also managed to keep hold of it! Good football all round!

As per usual in these hotly contested competitive games – this was never one way traffic: The young under 17’s from Windsor pieced together a nice constructive move that originally initiated within their own half, worked up onto the left wing – when the ball was eventually hammered from about twenty yards, they struck our right-hand post with our young Goalkeeper Ben Thompson at full stretch in his endeavours to stop it! As the ball cannoned out to the right, this was snatched upon by yet another boy in Blue, whom, from a relatively acute angle decided to try his luck. Again, in fairness, this was fine attempt on our goal, the ball just slightly drilled over our crossbar!

We almost took the lead after an absolutely sensational ball had been ostentatiously delivered from just inside enemy territory by a tremendous young warrior fully psyched up for the challenge called Dean Annette – Dean’s ball was a beauty, completely splitting the Linfield defence in two, our excellent young striker ‘Chucky’ Arbuthnot pursued it, looked up – noticed the Blues No 1 galloping out to confront him – thus, with cunning precision delicately lobbed the ball over the keeper that seemed to be heading straight into the Linfield net! However, one of the Blues players read the situation exceedingly well – he sprinted toward his own goal, somehow miraculously his outstretched leg managed to prevent the ball from entering his net as he hacked it clear right in the knick off time! Phew! As i said earlier, this was quite a game!

Linfield’s number eleven – whom appeared to be standing very suspiciously in an off side position – raced toward our goal but fair play to young goal keeper Ben Thompson whom stove out of his box to panic the blues attacker- this clearly had an effect on the young Linfield man as he evidently shot wide of the right-hand post!

Linfield came dangerously close to taking the lead – however this was denied to them by one of the greatest saves that I have seen in recent years. When I told my fellow Glentoran supporters & friends at yesterdays match that I had attended this game, I singled this incident out for special mention for I thought it was outstanding. This basically originated when a ball was played up our right wing – the ball was released swiftly into our box probed in the direction of one Linfield striker placed just inside the eighteen yard box – He intelligently switched play to the right, thus drove a thunderbolt of a shot seemingly aimed at the left of our net – However, this managed to crash against the legs of a Glentoran defender, the ball automatically ricocheted toward the right – young goalkeeper Ben Johnston somehow, against mind boggling odds, managed to throw himself to the ground, spreadeagled, he unbelievably fisted the rotating ball away from the target! Man, what a wondrous save – Phenomenal goalkeeping at its very, very best!

Jordan ‘Chucky’ Arbuthnot – in top form on Friday evening – powered his way from the the centre of midfield, diving & duking challenges as he did so, straight into the heart of the Linfield war zone: young ‘Chucky’ cleverly distributed a sweet little pass out to the left that found his colleague Lee Currie. Lee, returned the favour as he squared the ball into the Linfield box, the in rushing Chucky most unlucky not to make contact by a mere whisker whilst almost positioned directly in front of the Linfield target!

Linfield opened up the match after a great ball had been hoisted across the area by their number 6 found the predatory number nine, whose touch brought the ball under control, thus the finish applied proved a lethal one as this evidently ended up in the far left hand corner of our net. 1-0 the Blues.

We subsequently grabbed our equalizer though after a superbly architected manoeuvre simultaneously functioned when fabulous young prospect Cole Magee gloriously dispatched a great little ball onto the right, I’m almost sure that this was collected by young Matty Tunnah – he propelled a fantastic ball that landed right at the feet of young ‘Chucky’ Arbuthnot whom sweetly basted it accordingly deep into right hand corner of net! Spectacular equalizing goal!

The curtain was brought down on this pulsating first half by the referee just as the Linfield number three steamrollered a drive toward our goal, but young Ben Thompson was having none of it – again, he smartly dived to the left to make another highly impressive save!

First half –

Linfield 1 -1 Glentoran

As I remember passing comment in my initial opening introductory paragraph, this game was played throughout at an almost relentless pace. Therefore, it shall come as no surprise to anyone that second half proceedings practically commenced with the award of a corner to the blues that was whipped into our area from the right – one of the young Linfield players did – I think – manage to make contact but thankfully it was minimal, the went well wide of our right hand post for a goal-kick.

However, it was Linfield whom scored the next goal – whereas this evidently proved to be the winner. The Blues were awarded a free kick deep inside our territory, the ball thenceforth systematically rolled into our box, the young Blues player whom received it, touched it to the left- thus proceeded to drive an unstoppable pile-driver deep into the left of our net that beat young substitute goalkeeper Ollie Webber. Again, I must reluctantly emphasize that this happened to a well worked move.

That young live wire, the dynamic ‘Chucky’ Arbuthnot was clearly one not hellbent on surrendering the cause though – as indeed this admiral quality appeared to run through the veins of the entire team – Chucky, attempted his pot luck with a tremendously struck half volley, one that just dipped & narrowly evaded the Linfield crossbar! Again, yet another well orchestrated attempt on the Linfield goal!

A long ball diagonally swept into the box from the right of the pitch, singled out Chucky once again, this time however this highly-energetic young man elected to go for the ‘spectacular’ – he attempted a swashbuckling scissor type kick, when I honestly think that it might have been more productive if he’d had threw himself at the ball, attempted the classic diving header but fair play to him for possessing the tenacity & the confidence to choose the more difficult option.

Young Jack Henderson – or ‘Hendo, even ‘Hendi’, as his colleagues know him best was most unlucky with a sensational strike on the Linfield target that genuinely caused the Blues keeper some anxiety as he sprawled over to the right hand post, Hendo’ shot just bobbled agonizingly wide. Coincidentally, I though young Henderson enjoyed a really good game on Friday night. He strikes me as a cool customer on the ball – methodical, never panics – I really liked & admired this lads style of play.

Lewis Harrison – a big powerful lad, reminds me a little of Kym Nelson – made a great stampeding run right through the middle of midfield, although eventually dispossessed by a desperado Linfield tackle, the ball slipped across for one of our young guns – to be perfectly honest I’m not 100% sure whom actually struck it – but the fearsome shot happened to be drilled low & hard – the Linfield keeper responded with spontaneous reactions, in the process delivered a superb diving save to ensure that side still remained in the driving seat.

‘Chucky’ Arbuthnot stormed toward the Linfield goal from the left, but he happened to be brusquely scythed down, in fact totally upended on the verge off the eighteen yard box! The referee had no hesitation whatsoever – free kick!
This exceptionally gifted young player elected to take the free kick himself, he comprehensively hoisted the ball over the makeshift Linfield wall, the ball heading straight for the left corner of the net but the Linfield’s keeper’s reactions were razor shape, he somehow managed to get a hand on it as he amazingly turned it over the bar! Again,some magical football moments engineered by both sides.

A fine in swinging corner kick was launched into the Linfield area by Chucky, young powerhouse Lewis Harrison made contact with his foot inside the box, the ball torpedoed just past the right hand post by the breadth of a cats whisker!

In the dying moments, Linfield almost added to their tally after a cross had been squared into our zone from the right – it appeared that the Blues striker would almost certainly score but as he connected the ball rose thus firmly crashed of our crossbar!

A superb nights entertainment enjoyed by everyone present. Personally speaking I thought that at the very least we deserved a draw but it wasn’t to be as, well, you know what they say – ‘The Devil is good to his own’.

Seriously though, fantastic advertisement for the Academy & for this superb little league overall. Well done everyone & hopefully I shall see you all again soon.

Glentoran under 17’s –

1/ Ben Thompson 2/ Matty Tunnah 3/ Cole Magee 4/ Lee McCune 5/ Paddy Argent 6/ Lee Currie 7/ Jack Henderson 8/ Lewis Harrison 9/ Dean Annette 10/ Jordan Arbuthnot 11/ Josh Tipping

Subs – Ollie Webber, Marin Quinn & Chris McKay