Our U18 side produced an outstanding comeback from 3-1 down at half-time to claim a vital point in the 90th minute. Modou Touray’s injury-time penalty meant that County drew 4-4 with Cheltenham Town in a thrilling affair at Velodrome Way.
The Young Exiles started the stronger of the sides, and capitalized on their early dominance, winning several consecutive corners, and eventually Byron Anthony’s side made their opportunities count. Defender Callum Beckett rose the highest, and headed home past Cheltenham Town ‘keeper Freddie Lapworth, who had no chance in keeping Beckett’s powerful header out in the 7th minute.
County captain Jay Foulston had a shot saved by Lapworth four minutes later, but it was a chance the Young Exiles would be made to regret in the 19th minute, when William Dawes levelled the scores for the visitors against the run of play.
Young Exiles ‘keeper Matt Mayor conceded a penalty in the 32nd minute after bringing down Aaron Basford in the box, and the Robins’ striker made no mistake in putting his side ahead from the spot.
Modou Touray went the closest to getting an equalizer for County, but the forward’s shot was cleared off the line by the visitors with 38 minutes played. Just four minutes later, Aaron Basford doubled his side’s lead with his second goal of the game. The forward finished past Mayor from long-range, which meant that the visitors went into the break with a two-goal lead.
Byron Anthony made one change at half-time, bringing off Owura Edwards for Callum Jones to give Tom Hillman more attacking freedom. The change worked, and County got off to a brilliant start with just two minutes played in the second-half.
Cheltenham Town were punished for a handball in their box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Lewis Collins stepped up and gave the keeper no chance with an assured finish into the bottom-left corner to half the deficit on the 47th minute.
It only took four minutes for the visitors to restore their two-goal lead though, which had undone all the hard work put in by the Young Exiles. County didn’t let their heads drop however, and an instinctive finish from Jay Foulston in the Cheltenham box with 53 minutes played made sure the visitors weren’t out of sight.
Modou Touray was brought down in the box whilst holding up the ball, and the referee pointed to the spot again in the 56th minute. Lewis Collins stepped up for the second time, but Lapworth made a good save to prevent the hosts from levelling the scores.
Cheltenham had a goal disallowed in the 66th minute, as a hectic match showed no signs of fading away.
Goal scorer Callum Beckett was forced off with a head injury on the 77th minute after he collided with a Cheltenham player and was replaced by Lucas Murray. The substitution was precautionary, and Beckett is expected to be available for the next match.
The Young Exiles continued to dominate proceedings and looked likely to grab an all-important goal to gain a point, before having three efforts blocked in the 82nd minute, which all looked certain to find the back of the net.
Byron Anthony made two substitutions in the 84th and 87th minute respectively, with Elis Watts coming on for Owen Taylor and Liam Bishop making way for Shay Snell.
Just as County thought that they wouldn’t get a fourth goal to level the scores, they won a penalty in the 90th minute as they continued to pressure the Robins backline and they eventually made a mistake in giving away a penalty. Modou Touray took the penalty and scored to make sure that the Young Exiles gained a massive point and stopped a poor run of form.
Cheltenham almost dropped all three points as Touray produced a brilliant roulette to lose his defender, before having his shot saved by Lapworth, meaning County had to settle for a point.
Up next for the Young Exiles is an away fixture against Dagenham and Redbridge, who currently sit 2nd in the Merit League 2 table.
County Starting XI: Mayor, Hillman, Beckett (Murray 77’), Foulston (c), George, Taylor (Watts 84’), Jeffries, Edwards (Jones 45’), Bishop (Snell 87’), Collins, Touray.
Subs Not Used: Sioni Benham.