County side progress in the youth cup

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A TEAM representing Northamptonshire have progressed to the next round of the FA Counties Youth Club after taking on Jersey FA U18s at Raunds Town FC in the third round.

The home side were hoping to build on their current form of two successive wins to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.

The visitors capitalised on the early exchanges and a perfectly-weighted through ball from midfield allowed their speedy striker to advance in the penalty area. Ant O’Connor mistimed his challenge on the striker, earning himself a caution and conceding an early penalty. The Jersey player dispatched the spot kick on seven minutes.

The first real chance came on 14 minutes when Jerome Adekotujo accelerated down the left wing and delivered a cross, met by the advancing Jack Bowen who looped his header over the visiting keeper. Bowen took his FA County Youth Cup tally to four goals, continuing his father’s goal-scoring success in the competition.

On 20 minutes another through ball (this time slightly over played) was collected by O’Connor who was subjected to a dangerous challenge by the opposing striker.  

With very little option for the referee the player was dismissed, reducing the visitors to 10 men with 70 minutes left to play.

Jersey used this to spur them on and great interchanges allowed them to restore their lead on 26 minutes when one of their players ghosted in at the far post unmarked to head home from a tight angle.  

Jersey increased their lead and going in at the interval Northamptonshire had a massive mountain to climb trailing Jersey 3-1.

After the break Luke O’Dell made his competitive debut for the county. Callum Beech also came in to the game replacing Ed Kostiuk.

Both sides went close in the second half and Northamptonshire finally broke through on 62 minutes.  

Liam Tuck, who took the captaincy from the departed O’Connor, combined with Sam Heavey, who fired in a cross. Beech made a run to the front post and flicked the ball past the keeper.

On 71 minutes Andy Buckle replaced goal provider Heavey to add an extra attacking option. Northamptonshire were continually camped in Jersey’s half, even changing to a 2-4-4 formation for the dying minutes.

Buckle collected the ball before cutting inside to beat the full-back and place his left-footed shot in off the post in the 94th minute to level the scores at 3-3 taking the game to extra time.

Northamptonshire were aware of the dangers of pressing too much for the next goal, but it came midway through the first period of extra time when Adekotujo released Beech who rounded the keeper to slot home.

With just one minute remaining Buckle floated a ball over the Jersey defence, for Adekotujo to side foot home from close range.

The goal allowed no time for Jersey to provide a comeback and a jubilant Northamptonshire sealed their place in the Quarter Final draw.