Wednesday 31 January 2018 // National League Youth Alliance Cup // Report by Adrian Swan
This fourth round cup tie saw top of Division ‘B’ Maidstone United Ambers take on equal top of Division ‘A’ Boreham Wood Blues in a tight encounter at the Gallagher stadium.
Indeed it took penalties to finally separate the teams after the previous 90 minutes had seen the team’s locked in a 1-1 stalemate.
Having said that the Ambers would be disappointed not to have held onto their lead having been in front from the 21st minute until the visitors drew level on 83 minutes.
Furthermore in the drama of the spot kicks the Ambers were never behind until the final round of penalties when the Blues went ahead converting their seventh and the Ambers missed theirs.
The visitors had an almost perfect start to the game when virtually straight from kick off Sorba Thomas’s through ball put Bradley Sach in on goal but Ambers keeper Tommy Taylor was quickly off his line to narrow the angle and made a fine block with his legs to thwart the Blues striker.
After this it was the Ambers who controlled proceedings with David Smith curling a free kick from the edge of the box just wide on nine minutes before minutes later the Ambers went close again when a Rhys Bartlett cross from the left skidded off the head of stretching Blues defender Gyula Meszanos, the ball flying across the face of goal to the far post where Smith had no time to react as it hit him and went out of play.
The Ambers then took the lead on 21 minutes when Charlie Owen’s excellent free kick from wide right found the run into the box of Bartlett who scored with a neat cushioned volley low to the left of Blues keeper Fred Burbidge.
On the half hour mark it was nearly two when Bartlett’s 20 yard free kick curled around the Blues wall but Burbidge diving full length to his right made a good save pushing the ball out to wide left of the area where Darren Cooper quickly re-cycled the ball across the box to the far post where Leyton O’Connor under pressure headed over.
However it should have been two shortly afterwards when another good cross from the left from Cooper found an unmarked Smith who headed over when well placed.
The final chance of the first half fell to the visitors when Alex Morgan made a good run down the left to the edge of the box before whipping over a low cross that flew across the face of goal to the far post where a stretching Sach could only divert the ball into the arms of Taylor.
The Ambers went close to extending their lead early in the second half when Bartlett’s short corner from the right found Cooper on the edge of the box but his low shot flashed narrowly wide.
The Blues then had a chance to draw level when Samuel Walsh’s right wing cross found Thomas racing in at the far post but his close range header flew over.
On 73 minutes Boreham Wood were prevented from equalising by a superb piece of goalkeeping from Taylor when after a left wing cross from Morgan was only partially cleared, the ball fell to Sach near the penalty spot and he drilled a powerful first time shot that Taylor diving low to his right managed to block with a strong right hand before gathering the loose ball.
Unfortunately his heroics were not rewarded as the visitors levelled the match on 83 minutes with a scrappy goal. Kai Wint’s free kick from the half way line saw the ball lofted into the Ambers area where after a bit of pinball the loose ball fell to Jack Gibbs who poked home from close range low to the left of Taylor.
Both sides then had chances to win the game.
On 87 minutes for the Ambers, Smith made a good run down the right to the bye line before pulling the ball back to Owen whose first time shot on the turn was well held by Burbidge moving to his right.
The visitors then went close in stoppage time when a Thomas free kick into the box was well laid back by Sach to Ionut Radu whose shot deflected off a defender and flew through to Taylor.
So the game went to penalties to decide the outcome.
The Blues went first with Taylor making an excellent save diving low to his right to keep out Sach’s effort.
After that all the spot kicks were scored until the last of the mandatory ones when Smith tried to chip the ball down the middle but Burbidge did not move and made an easy catch.
After this the next two were also saved with Taylor again producing a fine stop low to his right to keep out Archie Pepper’s effort but Taylor’s own effort was easily saved by Burdidge as again he stood tall and held Taylor’s chip the ball down the middle.
Tarrell Watson-Noel then smashed his spot kick home to put the Blues ahead for the first time in the contest. Josh Dorling then fired his effort against the bar and the visitors had won the shoot out 5-4.