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Hayes & Yeading United 0

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Ashford Town (Middlesex) 1

FA Youth Cup, First Qualifying Round
Farm Park, AFC Hayes
17th September 2012

The last two results had seen the young Tangerines go head to head with the two teams of the moment and still come out unscathed. A visit to Hayes & Yeading United in the FA Youth Cup was going to truly test how far the team has come in such a short period of time. Could they overcome one of the best teams in the region and knock them out of the FA Youth Cup in the process? What followed was quite remarkable.

Ashford couldn’t have entered a game in better form with the two previous matches seeing the boys excel against tough opposition. So they were ready to face a Hayes & Yeading side that (rumour had it!) included three first team squad players. Things started well and the first exchanges were equal with Ashford probably having the best chances to score through Batousal and Large going close. Hayes & Yeading found their feet though and had most of the possession throughout the rest of the half but only had a clear shot on target which keeper Tyler Tobin saved easily from point blank range. Hayes & Yeading played a fast paced game with players that were comfortable on the ball but for all their possession, the defensive backline of Joe Lynch, Sam Wollard, Luke Neville and Sam Molyneaux were up to the challenge and all of them had to be on top of their game to keep the hosts at bay. Half time came with the scores even.

A slight change in formation and discussions based around staying calm and using the strengths they possessed, the teenage Tangerines came out focussed and with a point to prove. The game started to open up and even though Hayes & Yeading had a majority of possession, Ashford looked comfortable under the pressure and if any breaks in defence occurred, keeper Tobin looked unbeatable. In the last ten minutes, Ashford started to get some joy with Curtis Read adding some bite in the midfield and Luke Wilson’s energy putting tired defenders under pressure. However what happened next is what FA Cup dreams are made of. A Wilson run ended up with the diminutive striker being floored and a free kick awarded. As this was the 91st minute Ashford went for broke and loaded the box. As the free kick came in a Hayes & Yeading defender could only clear his header to the left hand area of the box but within a flash of a boot Luke Wilson hit what was described on the FA website as ‘a stunning strike’ and his acrobatic effort hit the far right hand stanchion with the goal keeper unable to even move. The Ashford fans went crazy and so did the players as Wilson found the energy to produce his Naniesque back somersault before being bundled to the floor. The visitors saw out the last three minutes to win the game 0-1 and progress to the next round. 

Unbelievable! Words are hard to find for a winner that was just out of this world. As previously mentioned, Luke’s heroics even found its way on to the FA website but then it also referred to the fact that ‘the first team manager Mark Hughes must had been impressed’! (Promoted and didn’t even know it! Sorry Paul!) This is what the FA Youth Cup is all about and the boys didn’t let themselves or the club down. Luke will always get the plaudits for his strike but the performance was based on a tight defence and this is what pleased me the most. If you don’t concede you can’t be beaten – simple! Tyler Tobin was in unbeatable form and with that the whole team felt safe in his hands. Confidence then breeds throughout the team. Northwood (away) await in the next round after winning their tie 4-0. Ashford need two more wins that would see the club make the 1st Round Proper and you never know who you might draw. I have had the unbelievable experience of drawing league clubs previously in the 1st Round and with that the chance to play at some amazing grounds. Fingers crossed the boys get to have the same incredible experience. It’s what the FA Youth Cup is all about. What a night. A week off now but back to business the following week with the trip to Northwood in the FA Youth Cup – hopefully my report is of a win!

Squad: Tyler, Lynch, Woollard, Neville, Molyneaux (Sam), Bovington, Lavander, Molyneaux (Connor) (Capt), Wilson, Large, Batousal, Somule, Read, Eveleigh, Marklew

Man of Match: Tyler Tobin