Belfast Telegraph

SuperCupNI: Late Rangers show breaks Armagh hearts

By Keith Bailie

Rangers striker Adedapo Awokoya-Mebude broke Co Armagh hearts with a winning goal in the third minute of stoppage time at the Coleraine Showgrounds.

Awokoya-Mebude's late strike gave the young Gers a 2-1 victory in an entertaining encounter in front of a busy a Showgrounds.

Billy Gilmour opened the scoring for the Rangers junior team with a stunning strike in the 15th minute.

The midfielder showed quick feet inside the area, creating space, before curling a shot into the top corner.

Zac Butterworth forced Armagh goalkeeper David Walsh into a great save in the 22nd minute. Butterworth's 10-yard effort was saved by the feet of the impressive Walsh.

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Chris Hutchinson found an equaliser for Armagh in the fifth minute of the second half. His low free-kick slipped through the hands of Rangers goalkeeper Brian Kinnear and into the back of the net.

In the 15th minute of the second half, Niyah Joseph headed home a Billy Gilmour free-kick, only for Comber-based referee Shane Andrews to disallow the goal.

Rangers had another chance in the 22nd minute of the second half, when Adedapo Awokoya-Mebude burst through on goal, only to be denied by the outstretched arm of Walsh.

With six minutes left defender Jay Mack could have won the game for Rangers, only to head over from a Gilmour corner kick.

The winning goal came in third minute of stoppage time when Awokoya-Mebude (above) slipped the ball underneath Walsh, although it looked as if the striker may have pushed an Armagh defender in the back.

Today, Rangers will play Plymouth Argyle in Limavady, while Armagh play Tyrone in a local derby at Anderson Park.

Elsewhere in the Junior section, last year's finalists Southampton drew 0-0 with Donegal in Broughshane.

While the game may not have been memorable for the spectators, it was memorable for Saints goalkeeper Jack Bycroft. Last year, as a 13-year-old, Bycroft broke his leg in a 3-0 win over Mexican side Zacatepec on the opening day of the tournament. Yesterday, Bycroft returned to the north coast, keeping a clean sheet against the boys from Donegal.

Southampton coach Matt Hale said: "Jack's been out most of the year. He got back just after Christmas in the end, around January or February.

"He's recovered really well and has shown great strength in his mentality throughout his injury.

"And since he has got back playing, he has been rewarded with a contract, a new scholarship which ties him to the club until he is 18.

"He had plenty of support from his family and our medical staff so he was well looked after, just as he was at the tournament last year.

"He was so eager to get back. He's a strong lad anyway, so it didn't stop him at all.

"With the help of the medical staff and the psychologists, we got him back on the pitch as quickly as we could."

You would have forgiven Bycroft for not wanting to return to the Milk Cup, but Hale explained there was no danger of the 14-year-old missing this year's rebranded tournament.

"He's brave, he's so much courage and he's been looking forward to coming back without mentioning what happened last year.

"Hopefully it lasts a lot longer than it did for him last year."

Today, Bycroft and Southampton play Scottish side Partick Thistle in Castlerock at 5pm.

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