Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Notts County 1 v Romulus 3 - FA Youth Cup R1

Many thanks for the ticket Dan Leivers
Tuesday 1st November 2016
FA Youth Cup First Round
at Meadow Lane, Nottingham
Notts County (0) 1
Tamar Clayton-Naute 79
Romulus FC (1) 3
Anthony Smith 44, 63
James Brown 90+2
Attendance 297
County's youngsters didn't show anything near the sort of form tonight, that sees them currently breathing down the necks of the EFL Youth Alliance (North East) league leaders and reigning champions, Mansfield Town, who they face in an away match at Brooksby Melton College, LE14 2LJ on Saturday, which kicks off at 11AM (Free admission - Spectators welcome).
In fact it would be fair to say that on what was possibly the coldest night of the football season so far, they froze on the big stage, under the bright lights of Meadow Lane, while, by contrast, their visitors Romulus rose to the occasion and on the balance of play thoroughly deserved their win and passage through to the second round.
Romulus made a very spirited start to the game with Levi Dawson winning a corner inside the first minute.
The Roms also registered the first effort on goal when Joe Searson-Smithard was forced into saving a firmly struck shot from Dahmarnae Sinclair... and the second when James Brown 'got on the scene like a sex machine', but drilled the ball narrowly wide of the Magpies left hand post from fifteen yards out.
Remaye Campbell got a knock to his head, but after time out and having a tastefully appointed bandage fastened around his head, the Pies front man was able to continue and it was his wide pass out to Harry Gibbons that led to the home side's first chance, Ricardo Dudley stopped County's number 11 in his tracks with a less than subtle, yet very thorough and effective, trip.
Alex Howes directed the resulting free kick to Sam Osborne, who, with his back to goal flicked the ball over the visitors keeper with his head, but it bounced back into play off the crossbar and as the Roms defence half cleared the ball, Jordon Richards swept a cross cum shot across the face of the visitors goal from the right hand side of the six yard box, that only need the slightest of touches, but it flew past the the left hand upright and finally went out of play near the corner flag.
In the main, Romulus were containing the Notts side fairly well, while looking to impose themselves on  the game as well. They won a free kick some thirty yards for goal, but rather than faffing about with any fancy set piece arrangements, Lamar Graham went for glory... and a ball boy went for a run up to row R to retrieve his woefully inaccurate goal attempt.
County upped the ante as half time approached
The home side were conceding far too many free kicks around the perimeter of their last third and it took a good stop from Searson-Smithard to keep out Dexter Walter's dead ball kick that was on target and definitely going in.
County upped the ante towards half time and almost took the lead when Alex Howes picked up the ball in the middle of the park, jinked past two challenges and set off towards the visitors goal with real purpose in his stride, before letting fly from twelve yards, with a shot that Dan Griffiths could only parry, but smothered at the second attempt with Osborne homing in ready to pounce on any slip.
Campbell braved potentially aggravating his bump to the head, when he bravely got on the end of Harry Bugg's cross from the left wing, but as he nodded the ball towards Griffith's goal, it appeared to come back off of a defenders arm who was covering the goal line, but the referee Lee Hible was much closer to the action than me... so moving swiftly on!
Ironically it was just around the time that Notts seemed to be getting to grips with their lively visitors, that Romulus took the lead, in the final minute of the first half, when Anthony Smith mixed power with precision as he floated a low shot beyond the reach of Searson-Smith and just inside the left hand post, that maintained a steady flight path mere inches from the ground for the duration of it's trajectory.
So there!
HT: Pies U18 0 v Roms U18 1
Romulus came straight out of the blocks after the interval and Searson-Smith did well to get his body behind Graham's stinging shot.
Howes picked up the ball inside his own half and powered down the right flank for sixty yards before crossing to Campbell, who turned the ball over the bar from close range.
Dom Brownhill's free kick from eighteen yards was well anticipated by Griffiths, who got both hands to the ball to prevent the Magpies from pulling level.
Smith was proving to be a real handful for County's defence and Cobain did well to turn the bustling strikers long range shot over the bar with a last ditch clearance.
Smith was relishing having a crack at undoing a Football League academy side and he narrowly cleared the top of the bar with yet another eighteen yard drive... but he was just finding his range and on 63 minutes he buried the ball into the bottom corner of the goal from virtually the same spot.
Sensing that the game was slipping away, Notts tweaked their formation slightly and sent on two substitutes: Louis Robinson and Ryan Ebanks in place of Campbell and Gibbons.
Ebanks almost made an immediate impact, muscling his way through the right channel and delivering a great cross to Osborne, who was denied by Griffiths as he twisted and reached the ball.
Time was running out for the home side and a good chance to get back in the game went begging when Cobain hit a twenty yard free kick off target, with Romulus limiting his options by piling bodies behind the ball.
Ebanks (I think???) shot from just inside the visitors goal area and though Griffiths got down well to block the ball, Tamar Clayton-Neute pounced on the rebound and threw the Pies a lifeline, when he drilled a close range shot into the back of the net with eleven minutes remaining.
With the County bench getting ever more agitated and animated, the home side piled forward, committing players to attack on a salvage mission, in a vainglorious attempt to force extra time and even a penalty shoot out if needs be.
Clayton-Naute picked up the ball deep inside his own half and tore off on a box to box run, but having opted not to lay the ball off, took too many touches in front of Dudley, who intercepted the ball and hit it long towards the right hand corner flag.
Graham's free kick into the Notts area, was deflected into the path of Smith and only a goal line block by Searson-Smith, among a scrum of players prevented the Roms striker from wrapping the game up with a close range header.
The Pies fans in the crowd roared their encouragement when it was announced that there would be three additional minutes to play at the end of the scheduled ninety, but by having no option but to get as many lads forward as possible for a last throw of the dice bombardment, County had to, out of necessity, leave themselves short of numbers and vulnerable at the back, Dudley hooked a clearance away from the visitors area, Brown countered at pace, Searson-Smith moved forward to narrow the angles for the Romulus front man, but he kept his cool and planted his shot past the exposed keeper to score the visitors third deep into stoppage time.
And that was that, County were now officially concentrating on the league for the remainder of the season.
FT: Notts County U18 1 v Romulus U18 0
Good luck to Mel Eves and Andy Turner and their Romulus side in the next round, they fully warranted their victory tonight.
And once again thanks to the Magpies coach Dan Leviers for the invite and the steward on the main gate at Meadow Lane and the nice ladies in reception, for the war, cheerful and accommodating welcome.