Limavady United under 15’s kicked off their Foyle Cup, Group C, clash with Norwich at the Limavady Showgrounds with a surprisingly hard fought victory.
Many had United well and truly written off before kick-off, with predicted scores of up to 6-0 in favour of the Canaries. It certainly looked to be heading that way in the opening fifteen minutes of the game.
Norwich looked sharp, alert and composed on the ball, with pace to burn on the right and left wings courtesy of Rui Da Costa and Joshua Emmins. Da Costa in particular was a real handful on the right wing with an array of trickery at his disposal.
Norwich controlled the pace of the game with Limavady looking nervous in their surplus moments of possession. Devonte Aransibia and Emerson Mutulala-Sambu simply bossed the midfield area, patiently building up play and stringing together pass after pass.
On the 12th minute Emmins’ pace beat Limavady’s Jack McGonigle, as he played a neat one-two with Henry Pollock only to see his shot brilliantly saved by Limavady’s Tom Hegan.
Moments later Hegan’s heroics were called upon again as Mutulala-Sambu found himself through on goal after a Limavady defensive error. Hegan’s outstretched body flew across the goalmouth and brilliantly deflected Sambu’s powerful effort wide with a strong left fist.
It looked like a matter of time before Limavady would be punished, and a disallowed goal on the 24th minute from Emmins was a warning to Glen McPherson to give his defensive line a shake.
The rest of the half saw United fight hard for possession as Norwich continued to control the pace of the game.
Limavady started the second half like men on a mission. Jack McGonigle began to bomb forward down the right wing, despatching a few great balls into the opposition’s box.
Norwich continued to pose a serious threat down the wings, but for all their possession football, nothing seemed to materialise.
With their tails up, United continued to press. Hassan got more involved on the ball and began to find space much easier, particularly around the edge of the box.
Norwich resulted to fouling out of frustration, a tactic soon to prove costly.
McGonigle was pulled down on the 50th minute from yet another surging run. The referee blew his whistle and Fleming stepped up to dispatch the free kick expertly into the top corner of Gratzer’s net. 1-0 Limavady.
Norwich, shell-shocked, restarted. They began to press forward with Da Costa and Emmins on the wings and Arnsibia bombing through the middle. The Limavady boys were penned in.
A neat one-two on the 55th minute between Kerins and McCammon saw the latter play Arnsibia through on goal. His drilled shot was deflected out of play by a last minute defensive lunge from McPherson.
With a few minutes to play, Norwich went all out in attack but couldn’t break down Limavady’s defensive line with Dillon and Lewis Moore impressing late on with a series of great tackles.
Limavady’s hearts were in their mouths in injury time, as substitute Luke Faulkner was booked for a cynical challenge on Rui Da Costa. Norwich flooded the Limavady penalty area as Aaron Attree lofted in a cross towards the head of substitute Alan Fleming.
The big number 9 leaped and made contact, but couldn’t keep his headed effort down as the ball sailed over the bar to the referee’s final whistle.
Limavady United manager Damien Mullan said, “It’s a fantastic result for the lads. Everyone had us written off before the game started, but we showed what we are all about there this evening.”
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