Last year’s SuperCupNI Junior Section champions County Antrim suffered defeat at the hands of Mexican side Pumas Unam in their final group match, a result which has ended their hopes of retaining the title.
The Mexican side came out playing like a side that knew they had to win to give themselves a chance of progressing to the semi-finals, Maxi Reyes producing a fine strike in the early minutes of the game that was well tipped over by Antrim keeper Luis Finlay.
Despite being up against it in the early stages, Co. Antrim will be disappointed not to have got a penalty in the 13th minute, Henry Foster appearing to have his shirt pulled in the area.
Pumas certainly weren’t afraid to put a tackle in, but unfortunately for them they were guilty of being overzealous at times, and this would cost them after 15 minutes, Daniel Gonzalez sent off for a second bookable offence after hacking down the Antrim striker.
Despite their numerical disadvantage the Mexicans would take the lead just a few minutes later, Antrim keeper Finlay being left stranded after the County side gave the ball away from their own freekick, presenting Iker Sanchez with the chance to lob the ball over his head.
The one-man advantage appeared to give Antrim attacking impudence, Connor Scannell being presented with a great chance one-on-one with Antonio Perez, but his shot was straight at the Mexican stopper.
On the stroke of half-time Antrim were perhaps lucky to retain their numerical superiority, with Brodie Spencer’s high foot punished with only a yellow card when on another day the referee may have brandished a different colour.
HT: Co. Antrim 0 – Pumas Unam 1
The men in yellow came out of the blocks in the second-half, knowing they needed a goal to keep their SuperCup dreams alive. They almost levelled in bizarre fashion in the 44th minute, Connor Scannell hitting the post from a miscued cross.
However, minutes later Pumas doubled their lead with a superb piece of individual brilliance from Luis Macias, his wonderful looping volley deceiving Finlay in the Antrim goal.
The County men faced an uphill struggle from here and despite pressing hard for the equaliser, failed to break down a rigid and orgainised Pumas backline, Marc Skelton’s speculative effort from outside the box following an Antrim corner the most noteworthy chance they could muster in the second half.
Co. Antrim will need to recover quickly ahead of their Globe semi-final against Arsenal, whilst Pumas now have a SuperCupNI semi-final to look forward to against Charlton at the Riada stadium.
FT: Co.Antrim 0 -2 Pumas Unam
Co. Antrim: 1. Luis Finlay, 2. Marc Skelton, 3. Jonathan Yip, 4. Brodie Spencer, 5. Max Greer, 6. Justin Hill, 8. Jamie McDonnell, 10. Connor Scannell, 11. Jack Montgomery, 16. Callum Marshall, 17. Henry Foster
Pumas Unam: 1. Antonio Perez, 3. Emiliano Freyfield, 4. Hector Ramirez, 6. Kleber Carranza, 8. Luis Macias, 10. Daniel Gonzalez, 11. Maximiliano Reyes, 13. Iker Dominguez, 14. Marconi Picazo, 15. Iker Sanchez, 17. Isaac Perez