Right to Dream won the Dale Farm Milk Cup on their debut trip to the tournament following an emphatic 7-0 victory over Southampton at a cold and blustery Ballymena Showgrounds.
The Ghanaian outfit nearly took the lead inside 2 minutes as Isaac Atanga picked out the run of Ernest Boahene, but Alex Rutter made a smart save to deny the midfielder. However, Right to Dream broke the deadlock a minute later as Emmanuel Bam crossed for Atanga and he stroked the ball home via the post despite the best efforts of Joe Tomlinson on the goal line.
The African side were rampant with Emmanuel Doku being denied by Rutter, before the ‘keeper was again called into action moments later to prevent Atanga doubling his side’s advantage. It ought to have been 2-0 to the Ghana outfit as a cracking cross from Atanga released Ibrahim Sadiq, but the wide man could only hit his effort wide from close range.
On 17 minutes, it was 2-0 as a poor backpass from Southampton’s Kameron Ledwidge sold his ‘keeper short and Sadiq pounced to finish with aplomb and double his side’s lead. Southampton began to shoot themselves in the foot as two further sloppy passes to the back were underhit. Both chances landed to Atanga and he could only manage to crash the post with the first opportunity, before he flashed the second shot wide.
The Saints finally created a chance of their own on 27 minutes as a well hit free-kick from Jake Vokins was parried by Stephen Sarkodie. However, the ‘keeper made amends as he smothered Liam Doyle’s follow-up. Right to Dream delivered a killer blow to Southampton’s fading hopes on the stroke of half-time as Boahene scored a cracking 25-yard free-kick that left Rutter with no chance.
It was to become even worse for the Premiership side as Right to Dream made it 4-0 shortly into the second-half. Following a cross being cleared from the Saints penalty area, the ball landed to the feet of Emmanuel Doku and he hit an excellent deft finish into the top corner.
Southampton had a chance to reduce the arrears ten minutes from time as a neat pass from Dan Bartlett found Christian Norton upfront. The big striker controlled the ball well and knocked it off to Vokins but he blazed over the bar. At the other end, a fantastic cross by Modibo Diarrasouba found Atanga but he failed to keep his effort on target.
However, Atanga was to secure his brace late on after brilliant movement from Boahene released the striker and he finished sweet into the bottom corner leaving Rutter with no chance. It became 6-0 moments later as another excellent free-kick found the top corner. This time it was Mohammed Diomande who took the honours, curling a sweet strike into the back of the net. The evening was to belong to Atanga as the striker completed a deserved hat-trick with a matter of minutes remaining. The pacey attacker pounced on hesitancy in the Southampton defence and evaded a couple of challenges before slotting home.
Match Report by Jonathan McNabb