U18S REPORT: UNITED 0 STEVENAGE 0 (2-4 Stevenage on penalties)
Cambridge United’s U18s were defeated in the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup, as Stevenage took the spoils on penalties in a close affair at the Abbey Stadium.
Despite enjoying long periods of positive possession and a host of chances in front of goal, United were unable to find the breakthrough on home soil and were beaten 4-2 on penalties by their opponents.
Playing with a heavy wind behind them during the first half, the U’s enjoyed much of the ball and crafted out the first opportunity on goal when Fernando Bell-Toxtle’s fizzed delivery found Jake Chambers-Shaw in space inside the Stevenage area. However, the midfielder was unable to divert his attempt on target.
United continued to press with Leon Davies using the conditions to his advantage with several teasing crosses into the box, which twice saw Jordan Brown go close to beating Stevenage keeper Billy Collings to open the scores.
Josh Emmins was next to receive a glance at the Stevenage target when a well-placed cross field ball from Davies found the left back in space on the opposite flank, but his shot failed to hit the target.
The visitors first attempt on goal came shortly before the half time break, when Jamie Gray darted into the U’s area, flicked the ball past Finely Iron, only to see his shot cleared off the line after some alert defending from Steven Shaw.
The second half was certainly a more evenly contested affair, with chances on goal few and far between. Mark McKee scrapped the top of Finley Iron’s cross bar in Stevenage’s best sigh on goal of the half.
Josh Emmins and Chambers-Shaw both produced long range efforts that were dealt with by Collings in the Stevenage goal.
As the game approached the dying minutes both sides had flashes on goal, with the best opportunity falling to Gray who dashed through one-on-one with Finely Iron. The U’s keeper held his ground well though, staying tall to final moments before parrying a shot away from danger which ensured the match went to extra time.
Collings in the Stevenage goal made an equally impressive stop when Jordan Brown jumped well to head on target in the first period of the additional 30 minutes. Harry Darling was then inches away from scoring within his own half, when a huge clearance whistled fractions over the bar.
Chambers-Shaw threatened with a long range shot of his own but the deadlock remained unbroken and the game headed to penalties.
With Gray, Cregan, Smyth and Mitchell all firing home for Stevenage, two missed penalties from the U’s saw them defeated and knocked out of the competition by their Hertfordshire opponents.
Cambridge United: Iron, Davies, Emmins, Shaw, Darling, Burniston, Chambers-Shaw, Bell-Toxtle (Leavers, 68 mins), Brown, Foy, Williams
Stevenage: Collings, Slater, Smyth, Croud, Kerr, Brady, Georgiou (O’Keefe, 70 mins), Guerfi (Dowridge, 115 mins), Cregan, McKee (Mitchell, 120 mins), Gray