AFA U18s Fall Just Short In Liverpool
Saturday 19th January 2019, KO 2.30pm
Liverpool CFA Soccer Centre, Liverpool
On a bracing, hardy day in the North-West of England, the AFA U18’s hopes of making further progress in the FA County Youth Cup were dashed by a solid, workmanlike performance from their compatriots from Liverpool.
In fact, despite isolated instances during a first half in which Liverpool applied increasing pressure on the AFA goal, it was only after Liverpool took a 2-0 lead that the AFA youngsters really started to play and force the opposition back.
The contest started well enough for the AFA with Danny O’Leary having an opportunity to wriggle free on the left and cut in along the byeline but the Liverpool keeper smartly snuffed out the danger.
O’Leary had another chance midway through the half but put the ball wide of the target.
While the AFA were working hard to manufacture a couple of chances, Liverpool were creating shooting opportunities at the edge of the AFA penalty area with increasingly regularity. Most shots went high or wide of the target, but the pressure was building and Harry Hauserman had to make a smart save on 23 mins to keep the scores level.
The AFA were still a threat though and 5 mins before half-time came one of the game’s more contentious issues: an excellent cross from the left invited a challenge about 6 yards out. The Liverpool keeper was committed to punching the ball but Ekow Coker rose & got his head to the ball first, flicked it wide & was then clattered by the goalkeeper. It is always difficult to decide whether these types of challenges will be interpreted as fouls by the officials, but what the outcome certainly shouldn’t have been was the corner, which was duly awarded!
HT 0-0 with Liverpool having had the bulk of the play but the AFA well in the game and clearly carrying a threat.
That point was followed up immediately after the re-start when an unmarked Fabio Ramirez header at a corner thundered off the near post to give Liverpool the biggest warning of the match.
10 minutes later and Liverpool managed to get round the back of the AFA defence and a cross from the right hit the arm of an AFA defender, with the ball having traveled around 2 yards. The referee harshly judged this a deliberate handball and awarded Liverpool a penalty.
Francis Turkington, the Liverpool skipper, took responsibility and shot low to his left. Hauserman made an excellent save but unfortunately only succeeded in diverting the ball back to Turkington, who slammed in the rebound for the opening goal.
A few minutes later, a defensive lapse at a free-kick allowed Liverpool’s centre-back, Matthew Scoullar, to steal in at the back post for an easy header to double Liverpool’s lead.
Then came a reaction from the AFA, who started to knit together some useful attacks, with Coker coming more into the action.
With the AFA breaking clear through on goal, the attacker was hauled down by a Liverpool defender producing only a free-kick on the edge of the area and no further disciplinary action from the referee. Eddy Mombanza’s free-kick looked goalbound but was blocked well by a jumping Liverpool wall.
A couple of minutes later and the AFA brought themselves back into contention with a lovely clipped finish from Coker.
However, with the AFA pushing forward, there were increasing gaps able to be exploited by an enthusiastic Liverpool forward line.
Having traded a couple of chances each, the last meaningful action saw an opportunity for the AFA when the ball looped onto the bar and behind for a goal-kick when it could so easily have fallen back into play for a tap-in.
As a metaphor, it summed up a brave but ultimately unlucky performance from the AFA youngsters.
In such a tight game, the feeling from both sets of staff was that Liverpool deserved the win on balance of play, particularly in the first half, but that, had the AFA managed an equaliser towards the end of the match, the AFA would likely have gone on to win.
It’s always difficult to travel so far and just come up short but the experience of the match and the run through the tournament should stand the AFA players in good stead for the future.
Many thanks to all the Liverpool CFA dignitaries & staff for making us all so welcome and thanks also to all those AFA volunteers and staff who ensured such a long trip was negotiated smoothly. Lastly, thanks to the players and coaching staff for their efforts this season in reaching the last 8 of a national competition, something they achieved for only the second time in AFA history.
Manager Pat Folan said afterwards: “I thought it was a very tight game & it could’ve gone either way. Fortunately for Liverpool, they got the rub of the green at important moments like the penalty save falling at the feet of the taker when it could’ve gone anywhere. I’m proud of the boys for reaching this stage of the competition. I’d like to thank them for all their efforts and we wish Liverpool well for the next round”.
Liverpool County FA U18s: 1-Joe Williams, 2-Joe Carroll, 3-Gerard Courtney, 4-Francis Turkington (Capt), 5-Matthew Scoullar, 6- Tom Preston, 7-Ethan van Aston, 8-Matthew Griffiths, 9-Cameron Grant, 10-Kyle Schorah, 11-Caleb Jones
Subs: 12-Max Smith, 14-Jack Rimmer, 15-Will Quayle, 16-Louis Kearns, 17-Josh Donnelly
Manager: Mark Jackson, Assistant Manager: Matt Potter, Physio: Michelle Scott
1-Harry Hauserman, 2-Ryan Murphy, 3-Ben Bellman, 4-Liam Mulligan (Capt), 5-David Ola, 6-Max Brassington, 7-Fabio Ramirez, 8-Eddy Mombanza, 9-Danny O'Leary, 11-Justin Dumfeh, 17-Ekow Coker
Subs: 10-Mekael Williams, 12-Jeremy Ebelebe, 14-Jaden Madimba, 15-Kacper Wojdyla, 16-Cameron McAdam
Manager: Pat Folan, Coach: Bob Leeds
Report from Jonathan Leese and Nick Hamilton