Down Juniors kicked off their 2019 STATSports Super Cup ambitions at a wet and dreary Coleraine Showgrounds, with those close to the squad having high hopes for their group of players, rated as some of the best to come through in the last few years.
In the early encounters it was Cousins on the left who was showing the most promise, with his through ball to Ingrim almost curving out the opening opportunity for his side, however the run was timed slightly wrong and called for off-side.
On 7 mins the travelling Down supporters were off their seats when it looked like Hopes had met Whightman’s corner from the right, only to see the ball run agonisingly away from the goal.
O’Higgins themselves had a glorious opportunity a minute later, when a ball from their left evaded the Down defence and with the goal at his mercy, the Chilean striker somehow missed his target.
At the other end the impressive Cousins cut into this right and let fire from 25 yards, only to see his effort pushed wide by the O’Higgins keeper.
The first set back to McAlister’s boys was to come on 14 minutes, when an O’Higgins player received the ball on the right hand side of the field. Driving inside to his left space opened up and when he let fire from the edge of the box there was only one final destination, despite the best attempts of Evans as he dived to his left.
Not to be dismayed Rolleston looked to get his side back into the game immediately, with his driving run from his own half being brought to a halt, as he was fouled on the edge of the opposition box. The resulting free kick from Wilson was sent high over the stand, leaving his side still chasing the equalizer.
Good work from Ingrim chasing what looked like a lost cause on the left saw a corner gained on 19 mins, with Hopes height almost coming into play again. It was an O’Higgins touch that sent the ball away from danger as a goal seemed certain.
That next goal was to come in disastrous circumstances for the Down side however, with Evans failing to deal with a high ball at his near post. With the wet conditions no doubt playing a part as the ball appeared to slip through his hands, the O’Higgins striker was left with the easiest of chances to double his team’s lead from close range.
Hopes was again to go close with his head as the half came to an end, however it was not to be as the ball again rolled wide after a long ball into the box.
The halftime team talk seen a more attacking start from Down, with Sloan unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet, with his effort from outside of the box saved well as it travelled towards the bottom right of the goal.
Whightman continued to show good potential out on the right as he knocked the ball past his marker, only to see his tantalising cross dealt with confidence by the O’Higgins keeper.
As time continued to run down there was a glimmer of hope with 3 minutes to go, as Shearer went down in the box following a last gasp tackle, however the Referee was having none of the appeals and waved play on.
Shearer was to have the ball in net as the final whistle approached, however a raised flag from the Assistant Referee was to bring heartache, with the effort ruled to be off-side.
Co. Down Squad
Matthew Evans, Scott Rollerston, Harry Wilson ©, Joe Hopes, Luke Reddington, Aaron Whightman, Seamus OgMcNulty, Dylan Sloan, Joe Cousins, Patrick Shearer, Bradley Ingrim.
Subs: Ewan McCoubrey, Scott Atchison, Chris McDonald, Robbie Morrow, Daniel Kirk, Harry Norton, Ronan Burns.