Town Youngsters Progress on Penalties
Tuesday, 13th Nov 2018 23:31 by James Ager
A young Town XI progressed to the third round of the Suffolk Premier Cup by beating Walsham-le-Willows 5-4 on penalties after the game had ended 2-2 after 90 minutes, with Ryley Scott (pictured) and Tyreece Simpson netting for Adem Atay's side at the Morrish Stadium.
The Blues fielded a mainly U18s side but with a few young pros - Brett McGavin, Ross Marshall and captain Conor McKendry - all in the starting XI and the visitors started well, with Walsham keeper Steve Fenner doing well to deny McKendry and Kai Brown inside the opening 10 minutes.
Thomas Hughes cut inside and shot straight at Fenner soon after, shortly before Sam Peters stepped up and curled a freekick over the bar for Walsham. At the other end, Armando Dobra then fired a thunderous drive from around 30 yards out that cannoned off the bar and bounced down before being cleared from danger.
Midway through the half Toby Egan was called into action for the first time as he parried Jack Brame's dipping volley away, moments before the striker acrobatically turned a right-sided cross goalwards, only for Marshall to deflect the ball over.
After a bright start from Town, Walsham came more into the game as the half wore on and the Blues' only other chance of note before the interval came when Dobra turned cleverly on the edge of the box but dragged his low shot just wide of the target.
Both sides came close to breaking the deadlock within a minute of the restart; firstly Ryan Twinn released Brame and although Egan was out quickly and slid in to challenge the frontman, the ball ricocheted towards the net, but Luca Vega got back to prevent the ball crossing the line.
The Blues went straight up the other end and Dobra played in Brown who found the net, but the assistant's flag had already been raised for offside.
However, on 52 Town did open the scoring and Dobra and Brown were again both involved in the build-up, which led to the latter pulling the ball back to the on-rushing Scott. Despite the ball being slightly behind the midfielder, he cleverly dragged the ball and flicked it past Fenner with one touch from six yards out.
Fenner comfortably gathered Dobra's effort a few minutes later but then the hosts equalised just five minutes after going behind. Left-back Tommy Smith gave the ball away with a misplaced pass across the pitch which Brame intercepted and he took the ball forward before firing low past Egan.
Hughes was somewhat harshly booked for simulation after going down in the box under a challenge from Lee Warren, before Simpson gave Town the lead again on 81. Dobra's shot was blocked by a couple of Walsham defenders and the loose ball was hit low into the bottom corner by the substitute from the edge of the box.
Egan had to be alert to tip an audacious 40-yard effort from Walsham sub Ed Spampanato over the bar, minutes before the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side equalised for a second time in the 86th minute. After a goalmouth scramble Marshall was penalised for a handball while he was on the floor and Brame stepped up to confidently place the ball into the top right corner of the net from the spot.
With neither side able to find a late winner, the tie went straight to penalties and Ryan Gibbs - the older brother of Town youngster Liam who played for the U18s against Coventry on Saturday - took the first penalty and saw his effort saved by Town keeper Egan.
McGavin, Scott, Hughes and Simpson all found the net for Town, as did both Ed and Jack Spampanato, Brame and Andy Cusack for Walsham. However Marshall stepped up to take Town's fifth penalty and he sent Fenner the wrong way to book the Blues' place in the third round.
Despite an impressive start, there were a number of occasions where Town didn't move the ball quickly enough to trouble a resolute Walsham defence. Despite falling behind twice, the home side kept going and a draw after 90 minutes was a fair reflection of the game, but in the end Egan's save in the shoot-out was the difference between the two sides on the night.
Town XI: Egan, Fehrenbach (Simpson 69), Smith, Scott, Marshall, Vega, Dobra, McGavin, K Brown, McKendry (Cutbush 80), Hughes. Unused: Alley, Baker, Henderson.
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