Saints go marching on into decider against Africans
English Premier League club Southampton will play African Academy Right to Dream in tonight's Dale Farm Milk Cup Junior Section final.
The two Under-15 sides will go head-to-head at the Ballymena Showgrounds (6.00pm) thanks to impressive semi-final performances.
Southampton put fellow English club Liverpool to the sword at the Coleraine Showgrounds, winning 3-1 with Jonathan Afalabi and Jake Volkins finding the net after an own goal, while Right to Dream beat County Antrim 2-0 in Portstewart with strikes from Isaac Atanga and Abusi Sirdu.
The match-up should be an intriguing affair as it pits together two different styles of play.
The African school of football will be hoping to add the Milk Cup to the Gothia Cup (Sweden) and the Premier Cup (Manchester) which they have already lifted this summer.
In Coleraine, Irish lad Glen McCauley almost gave Liverpool the lead in the ninth minute with a low drive from 15 yards, but back-up Southampton goalkeeper Alex Rutter was equal to his effort.
Clondalkin teenager McCauley was signed by Brendan Rodgers from St Joseph's Boys last summer at the age of 14, despite interest from Arsenal and Manchester United.
The opening Saints goal arrived in the 15th minute when Volkins' cross was turned into the net by unfortunate Liverpool defender Andrew Jackson.
Southampton went 2-0 up in the 24th minute, thanks to a powerful header from Afalabi. The tall forward rose high in the box before powering a corner-kick home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Cameron Langan almost made it three on the half-hour mark but his 12-yard volley went just over the crossbar.
The Saints did get a third, three minutes into the second half. Liverpool defender Abdi Sharif lost the ball on the edge of the box, allowing the hugely impressive Volkins to fire into the net from an acute angle.
Liverpool pulled a goal back in the eighth minute of the second half, when Neco Williams turned the ball home after a scramble in the penalty box. Unfortunately for Reds fans, it proved to be a mere consolation.
The semi-final clash between Stefan Seaton's County Antrim and African academy Right to Dream attracted a big crowd to Portstewart's Seahaven ground.
Right to Dream grabbed the lead in the 12th minute thanks to a fine finish from Atanga, who found the net from 15 yards.
Sirdu added a second late in the game.
Although Antrim are out, they can take great pride in their performances this week. This was the third time Antrim had reached the knock-out stages of the Junior competition in three years.
In the subsidiary trophy games, County Down will face Rangers in today's Globe final at the Riada Stadium in Ballymoney (11.00am). David Bryson's Down boys beat AS Roma USA 2-0 at Broughshane while Rangers beat Sydney United by the same scoreline at Rugby Avenue. A win for Down would go a long way towards making up for the disappointment of missing out on the last four of the Milk Cup proper by one point.
Sheffield United will play Brentford in the Vase final today. United beat Plymouth 2-1 while Brentford saw off Donegal 1-0.
Both Bowl semi-final games went to a penalty shoot-out. GPS Bayern defeated Armagh after a 1-1 draw, while Londonderry beat Derry Schools after their game also finished 1-1.
In the Salver last four, there were defeats for both Fermanagh and Tyrone. Fermanagh lost 3-1 to Strikers, while Tyrone bowed out to Zacatepec on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
In the Shield semis, Dundalk Schools defeated Colina on penalties, while Swindon Town beat Orange County Blues by the same method. OC Blues and Colina will fight to avoid the wooden spoon at Broughshane today (11.00am).