Sign up to the Irish FA Newsletter today

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news from the Irish FA including ticket updates, match information, competitions, articles and much more.
Thank you

Monday 11 Dec 2023
NI Player Watch | Ballard nets for Sunderland

Northern Ireland defender Dan Ballard scored his first ever goal at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland ended a three match winless run by defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the weekend. 

The 23-year-old opened the scoring for the home side with a powerful 69th minute header from an Alex Pritchard’s free-kick and admitted after the game it was an emotional occasion for him. 

“That was my first goal at the Stadium of Light,” Ballard told ChronicleLive. “It was quite an emotional moment and an important goal so it was really good. 

Also getting their name on the scoresheet over the weekend was Reading striker Lauren Wade who bagged her second of the campaign as Reading progressed to the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 victory at Cheltenham Town. 

Speaking to, Wade said: “It was great to get the win. It’s a nice feeling to be on the scoresheet and to progress into the next round of the FA Cup. 

Wade believes that Reading, who have won just two of their ten Championship games this season, will gain confidence from Sunday’s result ahead of some tough games. 

“It helps build confidence and momentum going into the week ahead,” she added. “We know that Palace will be a tough game next weekend and we will need the whole squad this week as we have Bristol on Wednesday night in the Conti League Cup.” 

Elsewhere in the competition, Brenna McPartlan scored a second successive hat-trick for Burnley who coasted to an 11-0 win over Coundon Court Women and Natalie Johnston was also on target as Nottingham Forest made it through to the next round with a 3-1 home win over Boldmere St Michaels. 

Winger Matty Kennedy scored his first goal for Kilmarnock following his dramatic 87th minute winner against Champions Celtic at Rugby Park while Jamie Reid converted from the penalty spot to chalk up his 17th of the season for Stevenage who won 2-1 at Burton. 

In the Premier League, Conor Bradley was an unused substitute for Liverpool though Jonny Evans played the final eleven minutes of Manchester United’s shock 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford to AFC Bournemouth. 

Meanwhile in the Championship, George Saville was absent from Millwall’s trip to Cardiff through suspension while Paddy McNair missed out on Middlesbrough’s 2-0 home defeat to Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich Town because of a back complaint.

In the Sports Direct Premiership, U21 international Matty Lusty bagged his 16th of the campaign as Dungannon Swifts narrowly lost 4-3 to Linfield at Windsor Park, and U19 striker Aaron Prendergast scored a late consolation goal for Glenavon who went down 4-1 at Champions Larne.

There was a first inclusion in Accrington Stanley’s League Two match day squad for Northern Ireland U19 international Lewis Trickett though he remained on the bench for the scoreless draw at home to Doncaster Rovers. 

Finally, there were assists for Lewis McCann (Dunfermline Athletic),  Rebecca McKenna (Charlton Athletic) and Rangers Women midfielder Megan Bell.