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FOOTBALL: Luck’s out for Bridgwater youngsters

Saltash United 2 Bridgwater United 1

FA Youth Cup

A DISALLOWED goal and a penalty shout turned down deep into injury time summed up the young Robins’ evening at Saltash on Monday as they unluckily went out of the FA Youth Cup on a drizzly evening in Cornwall, writes Kerry Miller.

Mo Hopkins’ youngsters played some fine football but were beaten by a Saltash side which had got past Brixham in the last round and rode their luck to go through.

Bridgwater began well with Lewis Smith bringing a save out of home keeper Olly Sidey inside five minutes then Gabe Plant volleyed a Harry Durant cross over before the home side showed their potential when Ellis Milne, who was a threat all night, twice went close.

The warning went unheeded as moments later the striker was given too much room on the right and his angled lob shot looped over Shay Allen for the lead.

Bridgy responded immediately and Durant and Smith combined for Ollie Chubb to go close before the midfielder wandered through the defence again but dragged his shot just wide.

Mike Murphy then brought a fine save out of Sidey and Acey Mead had a shot blocked as United showed every sign that they were in the contest and it was only a matter of time.

Todd Watts’ lightening pace at the back was brought into action as he and Callum Chivers nullified the threat of Milne and after the break United continued to probe at the home defence with Chubb worming around the back of the defence but his cross was just kept out before a counter-attack ended with Allen saving well from Blaine Walton. Brad Pfupa and Mead then drove at the home defence again for Chubb to drive just wide.

Advantage doubled

Fifteen-year-old Freddie Haden was introduced up front on the hour and within seconds he was involved as Chubb brought another fine save out of Sidey but just as an equaliser was looking inevitable the defence went to sleep for a moment and Milne was brought down in the box and Jack Martin doubled the home advantage.

It was a cruel blow but the response was immediate as Haden played a one-two with Bfupa before tucking the ball home and it was game on again.

Merson Ham fed Durant whose curling cross just evaded the sliding Mead then at the other end Watson should have clinched it when a defensive error left him free but his effort rolled across the goal and away.

Grandstand finish

United then staged their grandstand finish as Chubb crossed for Mead to net from a tight offside position before the industrious Callum Chivers collided painfully with keeper Sidey when going for a loose ball but was only given a corner for his sacrifice.

It came to nothing but the youngsters have begun their campaign with a fine win in the delayed League Cup final against Mangotsfield United and an away league victory at Yeovil Town before this unlucky defeat and a good season looks on the cards for what is a talented side with several already having had first team action at Bridgwater and Taunton Town.

Squad: Shay Allen, Callum Chivers, Harry Durant, Merson Ham, Mike Murphy, Todd Watts, Gabe Plant, Lewis Smith, Acey Mead, Olly Chubb, Brad Pfupa. Subs: Sully McKenna, Freddie Haden, Josh Hurford, Alex Parsons, Lewis Jennings.

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