FA County Youth Cup - 2nd Round
Northamptonshire FA 4 – 2 Devon FA
Played at Wellingborough Town FC, Northamptonshire, 20/10/18
Second half strikes from Sam Brooke and Oscar Walsh (both Feniton Youth) were not enough as, for the second year running, Devon had to try and overcome a 2 – 0 half time deficit in this national competition for under 18 County Teams.
A strong Northamptonshire team proving to have just too much for their Devon counterparts in this pulsating match, with both sides leaving nothing out on the pitch.
From the kick-off it was clear that both teams were set up to attack through the midfield where Northants held a numerical advantage playing with what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation.
It has to be said though that they could have been down to ten when centre back Luca Purse went through Devon’s Walsh with his studs up, the referee giving him the benefit of the doubt and only showing a yellow card, making it clear that he was not going to allow that sort of challenge by giving Purse a lengthy ticking off.
The effect on the game was palpable as both teams set about what ultimately went on to produce an excellent spectacle with no quarter being asked or given.
Northants drew first blood in the 11th minute when a slide-rule pass down the left from Patrick Casey to Loui Barrett resulted in the latter firing in a low cross which deceived Lewis Slade (Newton Abbot Spurs/Okehampton Argyle Youth) in the Devon goal and landed at the feet of Jessie Obeng who duly converted from 5 yards out. They should have gone further ahead in the 18th minute as Devon were slow to clear but were given a reprieve as Hilton Arthur hit his shot into the side netting.
Devon regrouped and started to pass the ball through the midfield with Sam Brooke and Morgan Cullen (Newtown) driving them forward. On 27 minutes they almost got their reward, a shot from Jack Rhead (Plymouth Parkway) being deflected for a corner which resulted in captain Dan Cullen (Newtown) crashing a free header against the bar.
A goal then might have made all the difference as Devon’s attacks were largely being foiled by Northants’ defence playing a high line and keeping the referees assistant busy with the offside flag.
In the 31st minute Rhead had a snap shot which almost caught the Northants stopper, Lewis North-Row, napping but he just managed to hang on and clear.
From then on, the half belonged to Northants as Obeng started to display his array of tricks, carrying the ball through the Devon defence seemingly at will. One such foray in the 42nd minute saw Northants increase their lead, Obeng cutting in from the right like a hot knife through butter only to have the ball taken off him by Arthur, who turned and gave Slade no chance with a right foot shot, giving his side a 2-nil lead to take into the half time break.
Devon came out for the second half with Matt Salter (Sidmouth Town) on in place of Bayley Williams (Tavistock/Drake Youth) and immediately got a goal back within two minutes as Sam Brooke picked up the ball in midfield, drove forward and smashed an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner – game on.
Unfortunately, within a minute of the restart Devon allowed the 2-goal deficit to be restored, as Tom Iaciofano was given the freedom of the park to lash home a powerful shot into the corner. Two minutes later Walsh wriggled his way through only to be thwarted by North – Row who was gradually finding himself the busier of the two keepers.
It the 68th minute Devon got the goal they had been striving for as Walsh cut in from the right along the goal line and smashed his shot through North-Row into the far corner from an acute angle. 3 – 2 to Northants now and Devon in the ascendency.
Two minutes later Devon’s Harry Walford (St Martins/Exeter College) hits the top of the bar with a beautiful chip and in the 76th minute Morgan Cullen had a free kick well saved. An equaliser then may have made all the difference however, that let-off seemed to wake up the Northants defence who gradually re-asserted their authority.
Using Obeng’s pace down the right more they started to create chances, Iaciofano grazing the top of the bar with a shot from the edge of the box.
As Devon pressed for the equaliser so Northants started to find space behind a tiring defence and in the 83rd minute Obeng almost made the result secure, firing just over from 22 yards. He was not to be denied though as two minutes later he raced onto a through ball down the inside right channel and fired across Slade into the far corner to make the score 4-2 to the home side.
Try as they might Devon could not find a way back and it is Northants who go through to the third round.
Player of the Match – Jessie Obeng (Northants)
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