Cambridge United’s U18s suffered a heartbreaking FA Youth Cup defeat as Barnet FC snatched a stoppage time winner to book themselves a Third Round tie with Premier League AFC Bournemouth.
United twice came from behind with goals from Joe Dearman and Nehimiah Richard Noel cancelling out a brace from Okem Chime, before Ben Tompkins registered late to end the U’s journey in the competition at the second round stage.
The U’s fell behind inside the first five minutes as George Murphy showed Joe Rider a clean pair of heels down United’s right and carried the ball 60 yards for the Bees before crossing to Okem Chime at the back post who turned it in via the inside of the post.
The Barnet striker was in behind the U’s backline once more three minutes later but was denied the chance to pull the trigger thanks to an excellent recovery tackle by United’s Harvey Steel.
Joe Dearman and Jake Battersby began to threaten down the U’s flanks shortly after, with Dearman finding himself in enough space inside the Bees area to fire United’s first shot at goal but it was blocked and looped wide. Whilst Battersby cleverly flicked the ball up and struck on the volley from eight yards out but he couldn’t find the target either.
Barnet’s diminutive midfielder Steven Bala was twice denied the chance to extend the host’s lead on 15 minutes, first by a strong one on one stop from Louis Chadwick and secondly by a brave block from Josh Gray who threw his body in front of a strike from 18 yards.
The U’s centre back was guilty of gifting possession away to the hosts midway through the half though and would have been thankful to his keeper Chadwick, who again was on hand to get gloves to a one on one against Chime and push the striker’s attempt away from goal.
United’s number ten Joe Rider manoeuvred himself into a shooting position on 27 minutes with a powerful shot on his left foot that skidded off the top of the wet turf and past the far post. But the U’s didn’t need to wait much longer for a leveller, when Joe Dearman entered Barnet’s area from the right and smashed a finish by Aymen Azaze on 32 minutes.
Harvey Beckett ensured the U’s went down the tunnel level at half time with an important block six minute before half time to divert Chime’s squirmed effort at goal out for a corner following a cross into the danger zone by Barnet’s Finlay Titchmarsh.
The U’s almost unlocked the Bees from a pair of set pieces inside the opening ten minutes of the second half, but neither Tom Dickens who side footed from Lewis Simper’s free kick, or Joe Rider who clipped the cross bar with a header at the near post, could edge United into a lead.
The U’s were fortunate to get away with leaving Chime unmarked in the centre of the area shortly before the hour, with the striker misfiring over the top from ten yards out on the end of a cut back cross.
It was United who looked to be dictating proceedings and were creating the clearer openings as the game wore on. Louis Simper forced Azaze to watch a 35 yard strike very carefully, with the keeper tipping over on 59 minutes and Harvey Steel saw a shot pushed wide by the keeper’s right glove too. The shot stopper could only watch on as Dearman thundered a shot against his upright moments later from a well-rehearsed U’s corner, as United looked to be cranking up the pressure.
However, they were behind on the scoreboard again on 69 minutes when a deep cross from the right landed on the head of Chime who nodded back across goal into the opposite bottom corner for his and the Bees second of the evening.
United responded admirably pulling themselves level again just four minutes later with Nehimiah Richard Noel capitalising on a skewed clearance and heading past Azaze calmly from six yards to set up a tense finale.
And just as the game seemed destined for extra time with neither side giving an inch, Barnet’s Ben Tompkins popped up in the right place at the right time for his side to loop a shot over the goal line from inside the U’s area to crush the U’s hopes of a trip to the Vitality Stadium and a test against AFC Bournemouth in Round Three.
Barnet: Azaze, Fowler, Greco, Helcke (Kudril, 90 mins), Tompkins, Edwards, Titchmarsh, Bala (Granville, 78 mins), Chime, Murphy, Castillo (Hercules, 63 mins)
Cambridge United: Chadwick, Steel, Dickens, Brown (Darcy, 56 mins), Gray, Beckett (Tarpey, 45 mins), Dearman, Simper, Richard Noel, Rider (Cowling, 71 mins), Battersby