Categories: General
      Date: Dec  3, 2017
     Title: ESFA U18s Trophy Round 2
ESFA U18 Trophy Round 2 Merseyside 3  Northumberland 2

ESFA Inter-County Trophy.   Merseyside U18s   3      Northumberland U18s   2


Northumberland started brightly on a fine afternoon at Liverpool Soccer Centre and their quick passing through midfield produced the first chance within five minutes when Jonny Fox (Monkseaton) was unfortunate to see his shot cannon back off the post.  Only two minutes later, Paul van Zandvlist (Tyne Met) got a sight of goal, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.  Merseyside’s tactic early on was a series of long balls aimed over the top of the North. defence, which almost paid off after the Merseyside number 9, Blain Hughes (Liverpool Football College) got free and rounded keeper Will Hogarth (Ponteland), but great covering by Jake Cairns (Monkseaton) cleared his shot off the line.  This scare produced an immediate response at the other end as the terrier-like Connor Walker (Monkseaton) robbed a defender on the edge of the box and slid an inch-perfect pass to Fox who shot found the net inside the near post.  Unfortunately, the lead was cancelled out within a minute when Hughes, a constant menace, again lost his marker inside the box and slotted home with ease. Both teams were creating chances, with Hogarth having to tumble to his left to turn a shot around the post, while at the other end Jake Cunningham (Monkseaton) beat a defender for speed and was brought down, resulting in the award of a penalty-kick.  Jonny Fox turned from hero to villain when keeper Ethan Sansbury (Cardinal Heenan) guessed correctly and saved the spot-kick diving to his right.  To add insult to injury, Merseyside immediately went on the attack and Hughes yet again popped up unmarked to score his second.  North. produced a flowing six-man move in retaliation, but the final shot by Sol Bell (Monkseaton) was just wide of the mark, leaving Merseyside with a 2-1 lead at the break.

The hard-fought encounter continued in the second half and several opportunities opened up for North., the best of which saw a Fox shot on goal well taken by the keeper.  However, in the sixtieth minute, life got harder for the away side as a through ball to Leighton Lewis (Beechwood College) gave him the space and time to make it 3-1 with a left foot shot.   Far from finished, Northumberland struck back within five minutes when Fox somehow got the better of two defenders to lift the ball over the keeper and decrease the deficit.  Half-chances continued to come and go with a shot-cum-cross from Walker easily saved at the post and several shooting chances well blocked by the home defence, whose efforts consisted mainly of shots from distance, but time ran out with the final score 3-2, putting Merseyside into round 3 of this national inter-county competition.  Northumberland were left to contemplate what might have been and return to Northern Counties’ League duty next Saturday when they will travel to Cumbria, followed by the visit of old rivals Durham for a home fixture on 20th December.