Cove United U14s booked their place in the next round of the Eddie Mannell Trophy with a convincing 4-1 victory over Northstar Community FC at Balmoral Stadium on Sunday.
The hosts, of SPREE League B, got a good grasp on the early high winds: in truth, the testing conditions proving a challenge for both teams throughout. On 3 minutes, a precise pass from the centre of the pitch split the Northstar defence, leaving Cove’s Ben Ellis to turn and tuck the ball into the corner for the opening goal.
Five minutes later, Daniel Adams would have an opportunity to double United’s advantage as he was played through in the left channel of the box by Ellis, but dragged his right footed shot wide of the mark.
At the other end, Landis Pollard had begun the game brightly for the visitors. Still inside of the first 10 minutes, his speed and endeavour saw him clear of the opposition’s backline, but he overran the ball slightly and the shooting chance was gone.
In the period that followed, half-chances came and went for United’s Dylan Ingram and the lively Kai Shinnie. Meanwhile, Ashton Steel was acting as fulcrum in Northstar’s midfield, carrying the ball and moving it around the field with purpose. The Northfield side were threatening in wide areas, particularly the right, where interchange between the fullback and energetic winger Jack Stewart lead to a pair of nice swept crosses, but nobody could convert.
Midway through the half, Jake Blues took control for Cove. On 21, he untangled a knot of Northstar players to fire high into the roof of the net and double the home side’s lead.
Then four minutes later, the tall midfielder had a brace. Again gradual build up, this time on the left, and Blues took aim from the angle of the box. Here, he’d shown neat footwork to hold off obstruction, before curling his effort into the far post, beyond the reach of Daniel Cowe.
As the first half came to a close, the determination behind Northstar’s defensive display was laudable. Leighton Sharp and Owen Baxter teamed well together and worked hard in the match.
However, Cove would not be denied, and on 31, Jake Blues completed his hattrick. Good close-control once more with the ball at his feet, he found a pocket of space and drilled a low shot into the bottom left from 25 yards. It was unclear in the watching crowd whether this was the cleanest of contacts, but it found the mark for 4-0.
Just before the whistle, Jay McDonald lifted one final chance over the bar for the hosts.
Cove had the afternoon’s gale in their sails at the break.