Amateur FA’s Under-18s were unable to repeat their 2013 elimination of Gloucester FA from the FA County Youth Cup on Saturday, as they were defeated 2-0.
On a sunny afternoon, the AFA Under-18s travelled down the M4 to try to repeat their elimination of Gloucester from this prestigious competition, as they had achieved at Enfield 4 years ago.
Unfortunately, this was not to be as they found their opponents too strong on the day on their artificial pitch, and the journey home was a quiet one.
There was not much goalmouth activity in the first half in which Gloucester had started strongly, with their midfield player McBeam prominent in dropping off his front two and finding pockets in midfield where he could control the game and, in particular, look for the speedy Gardner on the right wing.
Despite this it was not until the 21st minute that Gloucester achieved a shot on target and that was comfortably gathered low down by Reuben Rabstein in the AFA goal. This was largely due to the good defending of the AFA, where the tenacious Ben Reynolds at right back was determined not to be bettered and Gideon Sarpong was reading the game well and making astute interceptions and clearances.
The latter part of the first half saw the AFA more prominent as an attacking force, particularly down the flanks, but, unfortunately, too often the crosses did not find their targets. The game was now more even but Gloucester created the final two chances of the half but neither effort tested Rabstein. So, half time was reached with the tie scoreless.
The AFA started the second half strongly and good interplay between Junior Mubiayi, Isaac Ebelebe and Matteo Esposito put Necati Gench away down the right. He went past two defenders but the ball was then blocked for a corner, which led to a shot being blocked on the Gloucester line before being scrambled clear.
This spurred Gloucester into action and they created two or three half chances that were not taken. However, they were now on top and on 55 minutes took advantage of a weak challenge only for their centre forward Neil to slightly over-run the ball and Rabstein was quick to grab it.
A minute later Neil atoned for this. He was allowed too much space at the near post for a throw in and was able to get in a back header which looped up and drifted into the far top corner of the net to put Gloucester ahead.
The lead was almost increased shortly after when Reynolds stopped a shot on the line after more good work down the right by Gardner. However, Gloucester had their own goal-line scramble two minutes later when their ‘keeper, Hawkins, managed to clear an AFA free-kick. This was followed by Rabstein preventing Gloucester increasing their lead, after they broke from an AFA corner with a four on two break, but the resulting shot was saved.
In the 70th minute a missed AFA clearance was seized on and played out to Gardner, who cut in from the right and hit a left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
The AFA lads then showed their character and, helped by the introduction of substitutes Louie Remi and Raekin D'Cruz, and a switch to three at the back, came back strongly looking to get a foothold in the game.
Following a second successive foul on Remi, the Gloucester keeper tipped away the AFA free kick. Gloucester then changed ‘keepers and the replacement was equally adept at turning away Remi's header for a corner. This was in the 77th minute and, unfortunately, was the AFA's first effort on target. They came close again a couple of minutes later when the ‘keeper gathered another Remi effort after good work by Esposito.
Gloucester were now on the defensive but were solid enough to see out the match without conceding and deservedly move into the next round at home to Cornwall. The game was excellently refereed by Shane Mansfield (Wiltshire FA).
FULL-TIME: Gloucester FA 2-0 Amateur FA
1. Reuben Rabstein
2. Ben Reynolds
3. Jack Barton
4. Junior Mubiayi
5. Joe Toscani
6. Gideon Sarpong
7. Necati Gench
8. Isaac Ebelebe
9. Raheem Shiaka
10. Matteo Esposito
11. Christian Gyasi-Tuffor
12. Louie Remi
14. Raekin D'Cruz
23. Jarvis Monk