Wingate & Finchley U18s were on the receiving end of a heart-breaking loss on penalties at the hands of Andover Town, following a 2-2 draw after extra time in the Second Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup.
Wingate showed great character to draw level twice and at times looked like they would win the match however it wasn’t to be for the young Blues, with Andover winning the high stakes of a tie at Portman Road.
It was a disastrous start for Wingate; within one minute of the match beginning, a loose pass back to Jonti Purdom allowed Jack Nicholas to capitalise and slot into an empty net. In what would already have proved to be a difficult match for the Blues, their task was made even harder by this early goal.
The match continued to live up to its lively start with both sides showing pace on the counter however either team seldom created a clear cut chance as Wingate continued to chase the game.
The equaliser came in somewhat bizarre fashion – as half time was approaching, Simeon Olarerin’s cross from the right hand side looked to be too heavy, however it flew into the back of the net with Andover keeper Jack Martin caught out.
An injury-plagued half meant that there was a large amount of stoppage time, in which Kevonte Willoughby-Williams nearly turned the game on its head with a curling effort, however it didn’t beat Martin.
Not long after the second period kicked off, it appeared to be the same old story for Wingate; Luke Rae was played through on goal and finished well to regain the visitors’ lead as Wingate appeared to switch on early on the half once again.
Andover’s second goal certainly gave more impetus to Wingate than their first and they began to play with much more tempo and create more chances, two of which were missed by Johnny Gill and substitute Billy Hayes respectively.
The hosts’ pressure duly paid off and, in a goal reminiscent of Andover’s in the first minute, Willoughby-Williams took the ball past the onrushing keeper and placed a good finish into the net to restore parity once again with just under half an hour remaining.
As the match drew into its later stages, it was Wingate who seemed the more likely to snatch a winner in 90 minutes, with Willoughby-Williams squandering two decent opportunities following defensive mixups. However, the finishing touch was not there for either side late on and this enthralling tie continued into extra time.
The extra 30 minutes saw both sides play with a much more cautious approach and significantly less attacking prowess was on show, even though Wingate’s Ruben Carvalho saw a curling effort tipped over the bar by Martin. Just as both sides appeared to accept that the tie would be decided by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out, Jonti Purdom pulled out a crucial stop for Wingate with his feet, a save which confirmed this outcome.
In the shootout, Wingate had the advantage until the decisive penalty which was missed, and Andover went on to win it 7-6 with a save down the middle winning it for the visitors.
A spirited performance from the young Blues saw them fall just short of the mark, however the squad and management can be extremely proud of their historic run to the Second Round Proper, the furthest the club have reached in the competition.
Referee: Stuart Cheek
Wingate & Finchley lineup:
Purdom, Murphy, Mohamad, Adeyimi, W. Morris (Omoboriowo-Ola 46’), Lopes de Matos (Ar. Morris 70’), Olarerin, Farah (Hayes 30’), Willoughby-Williams, Carvalho, Gill (Ad. Morris 103’)
Unused subs: Mulligan
Report by Jamie Grossman