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 08 Jan 2024
Conor Bradley impresses for Liverpool in FA Cup | NI Player Watch

Despite losing 5-0 to FA Cup holders Manchester City at the weekend, Northern Ireland defender Brodie Spencer starred for Huddersfield Town upon his return to the team following his successful loan spell with Motherwell.

The 19-year-old right-back was pitched straight back into the Town side to face last season’s treble winners and looked totally unfazed despite coming up against the likes of England international and £100 million midfielder Jack Grealish.

“I think it has been positive to come and challenge myself against some of the best players in the world.,” he told HTTV. “That’s the sort of game any footballer wants to play in and it’s a chance to test yourself and see where you stand. 

“The type of player I am I will get stuck in straight away no matter who I come up against. I don’t feel I need to change my style of play. 

“As a young player one of the fears about going on loan is feeling forgotten about,” he added. “But the club have done brilliantly to keep in touch and let me know they were keeping an eye on me and obviously getting a recall showed they were happy with my performances up there.” 

Elsewhere in the competition, Liverpool’s Conor Bradley also earned praise for his performance in the 2-0 victory at Arsenal even though he only played the final 15 minutes as a substitute at the Emirates. 

The 20-year-old showed his undoubted class after coming on from the bench and slotting comfortably into Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right-back spot, leading to BBC pundit Alan Shearer praising the Tyrone native.

“Well done Conor Bradley,” said Shearer about his defending. “Staying alive and alert. I know they conceded a corner, but he had to do that. 

“Doing well, isn’t he? He has looked impressive when he has come on.” 

Also looking forward to the fourth round draw are goalkeeper Conor Hazard, whose Plymouth Argyle side defeated League Two outfit Sutton United 3-1, and Southampton’s Shea Charles who played the full 90 minutes of the Saints' 4-0 victory over Walsall at St Mary’s.

It wasn’t such a good weekend though for Sunderland duo Trai Hume and Dan Ballard as they were beaten 3-0 at home by their fierce rivals Newcastle United with Ballard scoring an unfortunate first half own goal.

There was disappointment too for Oxford United’s Ciaron Brown and Oisin Smyth who both started the third round 6-2 defeat at Coventry City though Eoin Toal and Dion Charles can look forward to a replay with Luton Town after Bolton Wanderers held the Premier League outfit to a scoreless draw at Kenilworth Road.

In League One, winger Gavin Whyte earned a recall to the Portsmouth starting XI as the leaders fell to a surprise 2-1 loss at lowly Cheltenham Town who had Northern Ireland keeper Luke Southwood between the sticks. 

Whyte was used as an attacking midfielder and Pompey manager John Mousinho was encouraged by the former Crusaders player’s performance.

“I thought he looked sharp against Cheltenham,” he told the Portsmouth News. “It was one of the sharpest I think we have seen Gavin. 

‘I think he has a lot of flexibility. He can play any of those three positions behind the centre forward, as he has done over the last four games. 

‘It suited him quite well. He looked sharp, he played well, he ran beyond a couple of times, and it was a much better performance from him.”

On the goalscoring front, midfielder Charlie McCann scored his first goal of the season in Forest Green Rovers' 2-2 draw at Salford City and former under-21 striker Ally Roy took his season’s tally to five in Alloa’s 3-1 victory at home to Edinburgh City. 

Finally, in the U18 Premier League, Cole Brannigan scored his second goal of the campaign as Aston Villa went down 3-2 at home to Arsenal.