Newcastle United fell to a shock 3-1 defeat to County Antrim at a sun soaked Ballymena Showgrounds on Monday evening.Newcastle United fell to a shock 3-1 defeat to County Antrim at a sun soaked Ballymena Showgrounds on Monday evening.
County Antrim made a dream start taking the lead inside four minutes as Patrick Burns hit a low freekick from just outside the box past Otto Henderson in the Toon goal.
Newcastle nearly grabbed an immediate equaliser as Kieran Aplin played in Jack Robson at the back post before his shot from point blank range was well saved by Declan Dunne.
The Magpies should have levelled the affair on fifteen minutes when Sam Joyce crossed for Robson before he saw his effort superbly kept out by Dunne who leapt like a tiger hunting down its prey to palm the ball away from goal.
Dunne was called into action once again as he made another good save this time to deny Adam Wilson as his low shot was turned away by the impressive County Antrim stopper.
Newcastle were piling on the pressure and they should have been level on thirty-one minutes as Oisin McEntree low cross was tipped away once again by Dunne while Thomas Cole was lurking for the Geordies at the back post.
Henderson then had to alert himself as Jack O’Mahoney tied the Newcastle defence in knots before his effort was well kept out by the Toon keeper at his near post.
County Antrim then went two ahead on the stroke of halftime as Thomas McComb found Aaron Donnelly to flick the ball into the back of the net from three yards out.
Seconds had passed in the second period before Country Antrim added a third as Newcastle failed to deal with a cross before the ball fell to Caoimhin McConnell for him to blast the ball into the roof of the net.
Newcastle came close to pulling a goal back as Max Allen powered down the wing before his cross nearly looped into the top corner of the net in what would have been an early contender for goal of the tournament.
Dunne was forced into another good save with time running out as he got down low to keep out a drilled in freekick from Oliver Walters.
The goalkeeper was then called into action once again as he made yet another fantastic save flying through the air to tip a Lewis Cass effort from twenty-five yards over the crossbar.
Newcastle should have pulled a goal back with five minutes left to play as McEntree crossed for Matthew Longstaff but he could only direct his header wide of the target.
However Dave Watson’s side did pull a goal back with three minutes to go as Robson fired low into the net from outside the box after he turned the County Antrim defence inside out.
A minute later the young Magpies could have pulled another back as Dunne once again came to his sides aid as he plucked a whipped in Cass cross out of the air when Longstaff was waiting to pounce in the final action of the game.
Credit: Joshua Bunting