Date: Apr 27, 2018
Title: U18s v Lancashire
U18s Northern Counties Semi Final: Lancashire 1 Northumberland 3
Northumberland put themselves under pressure from the off by repeatedly giving the ball away and were fortunate to survive the first five minutes. Then, in their first venture upfield, they took the lead when a low shot from Jack Butler found its way under the diving keeper. The game settled into an even rhythm until the 23rd minute, when the ball was moved quickly from Jake Jensen to Jonny Fox and on to Butler, who scored his second from close range. More pressure forced a defender to hold on to Butler's shirt when a threat seemed imminent, but this went unseen by the referee and only a corner resulted, from which a Lancashire defender cleared off the line. Lancs hit back and looked certain to score until Jake Beckwith produced a great block. Next Butler looked odds on to complete his hat-trick, but slid the ball past the post when one-on-one with the keeper. Then North. almost gave away a goal, thanks to an attempted clearance from goal-keeper Callum Harley rebounding from a challenging attacker towards goal; Beckwith again saved the day with a last ditch clearance off the line. Lancs finished the half strongly and closed when Harley was forced to tip a fierce shot over the bar to safety.
As the second half started, Lancs forced a corner and a header clipped the bar, but the momentum switched to North and Fox had a shot deflected for a corner and then saw his free-kick from 25 yards pushed around the post by the diving keeper. Then Butler saw a shot skim the bar before Lancs came back into it with three corners in quick succession, which were well defended. North. stepped it up with a half-hit effort from close range by Vinnie Proudlock being blocked, as was yet another Butler strike. At last, after 42 minutes, the issue was decided by Joe Conway, who picked up a woefully weak back-pass to round the keeper and shepherd the ball into the net. There was still time for a late consolation as a Lancs forward was left unmarked with time to slot the ball into the corner. Northumberland saw out added time to reach the Cup Final, which will be at home against Merseyside on 21st May at a venue to be announced.