MATCH REPORT: County Youth 4-5 MK Dons Youth
Rodney Parade played host to a match that would rival any FA Cup classics of years gone by as County came from behind to force extra time, before being knocked out in the cruelest of fashions with a last minute winner for MK Dons in extra time.
The County team started brightly and were instantly on the attack from the kick off, first year pro Aaron Collins shot from distance a whisker wide of the MK Dons goal. Following a County corner which was safely cleared, it was Collins again to stepped inside to test McCorkell in the MK Dons goal. Tom Owen-Evans was next to have an attempt at goal, working his way into the box to get his shot off which was deflected wide for a County corner. The resulting corner was headed away by the MK Dons defence only to find Corey Shephard on the edge of the area, the County youngster firing through a crowded penalty area and into the back of the net.
MK Dons suddenly came to life and just three minutes later were level, the ball was played across the County area and Girogio Rasulo was there to level the scores. The pressure continued from MK Dons and Luke Harries was called into action, Laurence Vaughan's shot was comfortably saved by Harries before saving down at the feet of the MK Dons striker. Having levelled the scores Rasulo then gave MK Dons the lead, his volley from distance nestling into the back of the net to make it County 1-2 MK Dons.
It was then County's turn to apply the pressure Nyall Gray cutting out a pass from the MK Dons keeper, Gray attempting to play in his team mates could only find a Dons defender who cleared to safety. There were then shouts for a County penalty, Aaron Collins going down under pressure in the box but the claims were waved away by the referee. Gray continued to threaten, working his way into the box Gray's shot was spilled by McCorkell, the ball slowly making it's way towards the MK Dons goal but stopped just shy.
Just minutes later Laurence Vaughan extended the MK Dons lead, turning on the edge of the box Vaughan dispatched a curling effort into the top corner of the County goal to make it County 1-3 MK Dons. The County youngsters were looking for an instant reply, Collins shot was deflected wide for a corner before putting another attempt on target which was safely held by McCorkell. Another County chance came in the form of Tom Owen-Evans strike at goal, his effort from just outside the penalty area ended up just over the bar.
Kieran Parselle continued the County pressure, following a darting run from his own half, Parselle made his way into the area from wide, his effort ending up just wide of the post. With five minutes to go before half time, County nearly conceded a fourth, Cedrick Mpadi's clearance whistling past the County goal and away for a corner. Corey Shephard tried his luck from distance but his shot was blocked by two MK Dons defenders and behind for another County corner.
HALF TIME: County 1-3 MK Dons
A half time substitution for County saw Nathan Mathias replace Spencer Wood. It was MK Dons who had the first chance of the half as Tshimanga's shot on goal was well saved by Harries in the County goal. Shephard continued to be a threat as his shot was just wide of the MK Dons goal and away for a goal kick. A second substitution for County on 51 minutes, Joe Ward replacing Cedrick Mpadi. County were pushing for a goal to get them back in the game and it nearly came in the form of an Aaron Collins free kick, his effort just over the bar from 25 yards. The third and final substitution for County just before the hour mark saw Ben Brooks replace Corey Shephard. As we passed the hour mark, MK Dons found themselves extending the lead, Kevin Owusu finishing well from the edge of the box to make it County 1-4 MK Dons.
Despite the fourth goal and MK Dons looking likely to face Nottingham Forest in the next round of the Cup, the next half hour saw the 11 County youngsters dig deep and with encouragement from the 430 strong crowd, they certainly gave it their all. Just seven minutes later Nyall Gray finished well into the top left hand corner leaving the MK Dons keeper with no chance of saving it. The belief began to show and the County youngsters continued to push. Ben Brooks shot from just outside the area was close to cutting the deficit, but his effort was wide of the mark. As the referee awarded a free kick to County from 40 yards, Aaron Collins stepped up to take the free kick, his effort looping into the area catching keeper McCrokell out and clipping the underside of the bar before nestling into the back of the net. County were now only 1 goal away from extra time with quarter of an hour left to play.
When County were awarded another free kick in a similar position to Collins' goal, the County crowd were asking the youngster to go for goal and it nearly paid off. Collins' effort ending up just over the MK Dons goal and away for a goal kick. County continued to push for an equaliser with 400 fans behind them and entering into stoppage time, step up Ben Brooks, outside the area the County youngster created space for himself firing home to level the scores in the 91st minute, cueing celebrations from players, staff and fans alike. It was nearly the complete come back, substitute Nathan Mathias found his way into the area but his effort was inches over the bar. As the referee signalled the end of normal time, this game was heading to extra time.
FULL TIME: County 4-4 MK Dons
Having just levelled the scores, Ben Brooks nearly put County ahead, finding himself through on goal but his shot was well saved by the MK Dons keeper and away for a corner. With both teams giving their all wanting to avoid a dreaded penalty shootout, Luke Harries had to be on top form saving down well to his right to ensure Tshimanga's shot didn't go in.
HALF TIME (ET): County 4-4 MK Dons
With the second half underway Ben Brooks was played through on goal, but McCorkell was off his line quickly to ensure he gathered the ball before the County striker. With 12 minutes remaining MK Dons found themselves with a free kick in a dangerous position, the free kick ending up safely over the County bar and away for a goal kick. County continued to push for the lead, but it was MK Dons who had the ball in the back of the net, Tshimanga slotting home from inside the area, only to see the linesman flag for offside and keeping the scores at 4-4. But as we entered the final minute of Extra Time it was Tshimanga who turned following a well worked free kick, his shot finding it's way into the corner of the County goal and to cue the celebrations from the MK Dons players.
FULL TIMES (ET): County 4-5 MK Dons
Youth team Manager Michael Flynn commented after the game: "I thought their attitude was outstanding tonight and they've scored some great goals, they were 4-1 down with half hour to go and got back to 4-4 and missing a good chance in extra time. The bug bear for me was the goals we conceded, but they've played against a very good MK Dons team who have some very good players, it was a big step up for a lot of them, but i thought they were outstanding and they did themselves proud and I'm sure they've won a lot of admirers tonight."