A late penalty earned Australia’s U18/U19 Schoolboys a draw against Northern Ireland’s Under-18 Schoolboys in Larne on Tuesday.
The visitors had slightly more possession at Inver Park during a scrappy game which did not have much in the way of goalmouth action and finished 1-1.
A goal fest perhaps looked on the cards when Northern Ireland striker Callum Ferris opened the scoring after just two minutes but it never materialised.
Ferris latched on to a fine through ball from Mal Smith and smashed it through Australian keeper Levi Kaye’s legs into the corner of the net.
Craigavon Senior High student Ferris, who plays his club football at Portadown, then had a golden opportunity to double the lead. He was brought down inside the area by the Australian keeper. Ferris stepped up to take the spot kick but his low drive was well saved by Kaye.
Northern Ireland, who were captained by Larne High student Liam Hassin, continued to press but lacked a cutting edge.
Paddy Burns could possibly have made it 2-0 midway through the half when he cleverly spun away from his marker to meet a corner, however his shot was off target.
The second half was pretty even with both sides really only threatening from set pieces, while a flurry of substitutions interrupted the flow of the game.
The main talking point came with five minutes to go. An Australian player fired in a low shot which cannoned off Northern Ireland defender Lewis McGarvey inside the box. The referee claimed the player had handled the ball and pointed to the spot despite protests from the Northern Ireland players. Maximillien Balard was unfazed by the protests and stepped up to slot the penalty into the net to make it one apiece.
Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys: Ruadhan McKenna (Rathmore Grammar/Cliftonville), Malachy Smith (FMC Hanwood/Glentoran), Paddy Burns (St Malachy’s Belfast/Glenavon), Lewis McGarvey (St Malachy’s Belfast/Glentoran), Ruari O’Hare (St Patrick’s Downpatrick/Linfield), Liam Hassin (Larne HS/Larne), Ryan Carmichael (St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon/Portadown), Jake Corbett (SERC Lisburn/Linfield), Callum Ferris (Craigavon Senior High/Portadown), Ben Cushnie (Laurelhill/Glentoran), Jamie Glover (Ashfield High/Glentoran). Substitutes: Ben Fry (Ballymena Academy/Ballyclare Comrades), Callum McVeigh (Down High School/Linfield), Josh Largo-Ellis (St Michael’s Enniskillen/Ballinamallard United), Sam Robb (Fivemiletown College/Ballinamallard United), Trai Hume (Slemish College/Linfield), Jack Bradley (St Joseph’s Derry-Londonderry/Coleraine), Josh McGreevy (Northern Regional College/Crusaders), Andrew Whiteside (Coleraine GS/Coleraine).
Australia U18/U19 Schoolboys: Levi Kaye, Lachlan Scheffers, Blake Richards, Sam Webb, Richard Stewart, Maximillien Balard, Jarrod Carluccio, Calem Niewenhof, Rory Jordan, Harry McCarthy, Pratik Napit. Substitutes: Anthony Sparacino, Michael Harth, Dean Pelekanos, Jake Hollman, Louis Zabala, Bailey Rule, Mathew Nikolovski.