An entertaining game at the Riada Stadium, Ballymoney saw Lusaka reach the final of the Super Cup NI Globe competition, after a nailbiting penalty shootout win over Newcastle United.
It was the English outfit who came racing out of the blocks and they were ahead within 3 minutes as Lewis McNall took advanatage of a fumble by Lusaka keeper, Bradley Jr Mweene, to open the scoring.
The Zambians got their act together after this goal and put their opponents under some sustained pressure. Norris Angel Mwamba and Joseph Ndawa both had good chances to equalise, but Newcastle’s big no.6, Lewis Gibson, was proving to be a rock in the centre of defence as they held on to their lead.
Newcastle had withstood the onslaught, once again they started to create chances of their own. Owen Gallacher was having some joy down Newcastle’s left wing and he put a lovely ball into Mackenzie Heaney who almost doubled his team’s lead. Gallacher went on to fashion another chance for himself, lovely skill to open up the space only to get the ball stuck between his feet as he went to shoot.
With the game opening up and some great football being played, it was a relatively simple goal that led to Lusaka’s equaliser. A deep corner found Ndawa who looped the ball back into the 6 yard area where William Chungu was free and he was left with a simple header into the net.
After the equaliser, the game turned a little scrappy, with the only chances of any note being 2 long range efforts from Lusaka. However, as half time beckoned, Newcastle had 2 great chances to go in ahead at the break. Heaney, on the right wing, was instrumental in both. First of all, a quick Newcastle break through the pacey winger saw him slip a fine pass into to the feet of McNall who slipped it inches by the far post. Moments later, Heaney found the ball again and he sent in an excellent cross right on to the head of Gallacher but he managed to put it wide, when it looked easier to score.
The second half started at blistering pace with Lusaka having chances through Lawrence Miranzi and Timothy Chisha, while Thomas Allan and McNall, once again, found themselves in space but the finishes were lacking in conviction.
As the second half wore on, Newcastle were much the better side and pushed hard to get the winner. It seemed that the Zambians were happy to take their chance in a penalty shootout. McNall and Heaney showed a great understanding all match, again Heaney created a good opening for Newcastle’s front man, but Mweene produced a very good save to tip the ball over.
Lusaka rarely threatened but they did have a big shout for a penalty in the closing minutes after the ball bounced in the Newcastle area and seemed to hit the defender’s arm, but the referee waved the strong appeals away, and probably rightly so as it would have been harsh. The final whistle sounded soon after and the game was going to be decided from the penalty spot after all.
The quality of the first 8 penalties in the shoot out were of the highest quality and it looked like we may be in for a lengthy battle. Successful for Newcastle were McNall, Longstaff, Bailey and Adam Wilson with Mwamba, Ndawa, Chungu and Miyanda responding to leave it poised at 4-4. Next to step up for Newcastle was arguably the game’s best player, Mackenzie Heaney. However, he struck the ball very poorly and Mweene had a simple save to make. It was down to Nicholas Banda to send Lusaka through and he made no mistake with a well taken corner. As the Zambians celebrated their win with some traditional African singing and dancing, Newcastle were left to rue their missed chances.
Report by Ray Baxter @8ballRB