Somerset pupils pass Cardiff test to earn quarter-final tie with Essex in National Cup
PUBLISHED: 13:00 23 December 2019
Somerset Schools under-18s progressed to the quarter-finals of the English Schools' Football Assocation Inter-County National Cup after grinding out a narrow 3-2 extra time win over Cardiff & Vale County.
Having not managed to get the whole Somerset group together for this campaign, it was to the players' credit that they started on the front foot.
With players from all corners of the county involved it is always a challenging and exciting prospect and the group fully integrated in a seamless fashion.
However, the visitors were forced to make a change after a Cardiff attacker left his foot in just a tad too long, catching goalkeeper Cameron Pike on the knee, which saw him replaced by defender Archie Morris.
After a goalless first period, the second suddenly burst into life.
After Cardiff's keeper made a number of good saves from Noah Coppin, Connor Westerside, Luke Manley and Callum Watts, Ryan Sandford then saw an uncharacteristic header go off target before the deadlock was finally broken.
Good approach play allowed Flynn Hawkins to slam home the second ball as the hosts failed to clear.
Harry Purser and Sonny Burbidge were then introduced to add fresh legs and provide cover in a couple of areas, however this didn't deter the hosts who managed to equalise within 10 minutes when Niall Chinn hit a good volley past Morris.
Both teams still possessed plenty of energy, but again the visiting side edged the encounter and Coppin and Westerside combined well, allowing the former to scamper free and put in a delightful ball across the box for Westerside to sidefoot home.
With time ticking away and with less than five minutes to go Cardiff attacked down the flank.
Sam Horne put in a cross that deflected off another player and fortuitously looped over man of the match Morris in goal to set up another 30 minutes.
But in the second period of extra time, Cardiff's grit and determination was finally broken when Coppin went down in the box to win a penalty.
He stepped up for the spot-kick, finishing well to ensure the Somerset team a trip to Essex in the last eight.