Cookstown Youth Seniors travelled to Dixon Park to take on Division One league leaders Ballyclare in the second round of the Canada Trophy.
With so many absentees and injuries manager Niall Hunter had to call on several of his U18 squad to help field a team.
Ballyclare started off lively and it was easy to see why they are top of their league. With some smart inter-play in the midfield it was the home side who created the first opportunity at goal. A corner by Ballyclare was quickly dealt with by the Cookstown defence.
Steven McElhatton saw his free kick go agonisingly over the bar for the youth. Aiden Doyle and Jordan Glasgow were connecting well on the right flank for Cookstown and it was Glasgow who watched his bullet header saved by the young Ballyclare goalkeeper.
Phil McGarvey had to be replaced by Keifer Scott due to injury after only 15 minutes.
George Dardis had a clear cut chance to open the scoring when a hanging cross by O’Neill found him on his own at the back post but the veteran managed to head the ball over the bar.
Ballyclare were playing some delightful football and they had a shot on goal and Gareth McElhatton had to be at his best to produce a wonder save when a goal looked certain.
Pickering and Danny McElhatton were starting to boss the midfield and chances were now coming Cookstown’s way. Just on the stroke of half time Cookstown were given a free kick and Johnny O’Neill rifled a shot into the goal from fully 30 yards giving the Ballyclare keeper no chance.
Ballyclare came out in the second half and besieged the Cookstown goal. Scott and O’Neill both had to clear off the Cookstown goal line. With so much pressure a goal was surely on the cards. A free kick by Ballyclare was met by the head of their centre forward and guided into the Cookstown goal to level things up.
Again Doyle and Glasgow connected to give young Doyle a great chance to regain the lead for Cookstown when one-on-one with the keeper. However, his first touch let him down and the keeper saved comfortably.
Mark Megarry replaced Doyle and Mark Larmour came on for Glasgow in a bid to help win the game for the Cookstown. Ballyclare pushed for a winner but the Cookstown side were having none of it and it was McElhatton in goal who kept Ballyclare at bay.
On the 80th minute Cookstown produced a touch of brilliance. With the back line of Ballyclare pushing up and a finely threaded ball from the midfield put Pickering through on goal but the midfielder was brutally brought down in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Steven McElhatton stepped up and side footed the ball into the net to make the score 2-1.
With minutes left Ballyclare pushed for a leveller but it was the pocket rocket Larmour who broke away down the line and squared the ball to Megarry. His shot was well saved again but the referee blew the final whistle much to the jubilation of the whole of the Cookstown Youth team and the cup giant killing had been complete.
This Saturday Cookstown Youth are back in league action when they travel to play Clough Rangers at 2pm.