Devastated under-18s suffer penalty heartache
6:00am Monday 16th December 2013 in Sport
WANDERERS Under-18s coach David Lee admitted his young players were devastated after suffering penalty shootout heartache in the FA Youth Cup third round at the weekend.
On Friday 13th, luck turned against the young Whites as Guillermo Torres struck a post and Robert Holding’s spot-kick was saved as Sheffield United won 4-3 on penalties when the sides could not be separated after 120 minutes.
And despite a stirring battle, that saw substitute William Abbotts grab a stunning stoppage-time leveller to make it 1-1 and force extra time, Lee conceded the Blades probably just about deserved to progress after a second half where they hit the woodwork three times.
Nevertheless, he was full of praise for his team’s effort on the big stage at the Reebok Stadium.
Lee told The Bolton News: “The lads are totally disappointed and gutted.
They got themselves back in the game with a wonderful strike and you start to think it might be the luck you need.
“We had one or two chances after that and to be fair to Sheffield United they had one or two as well, so the game could have gone either way.
“Unfortunately, when it goes to penalties it becomes a lottery.
“Someone is going to miss a penalty or the keeper will make a save an unfortunately for us it went their way.
“We rode our luck in the second half but sometimes that’s football; at the start of the game we had two fantastic chances inside three minutes and the game could have been done.
“At 1-0 we were always in the game.
“The players stuck at it and I thought we looked fitter in extra time.
Wanderers started brightly and both Elliot Newby and Sam Bailey went close in the first few minutes.
But it needed a fine save from 15-year-old keeper Will Jaaskelainen, son of ex-Wanderer Jussi, from Dominic Calvert-Lewin to keep the scores goalless on seven minutes.
It was a tight affair until a slick piece of play from the Blades, who won 9-0 in round two, sliced open the Whites defence and Otis Khan rifled home past Jaaskelainen on 32 minutes.
The second period saw United press strongly and Khan hit both the bar and post, while Connor Dimaio also saw an effort bounce off the woodwork.
Jaaskelainen also pulled off a string of fine saves to defy his 15 years of age and it looked like being Wanderers’ night when Abbotts sent an arrow-like effort into the top corner in the 91st minute.
But it went all the way through extra time to spot-kicks and Bailey, Newby and Jamie Thomas scored as the first six were successful before disappointment for Lee and Tony Kelly’s boys.
Naturally disappointed as his team heads into the festive break, Lee is confident the experience will prove a beneficial one in the long run.
Wanderers U18s: Jaaskelainen, Hendrie, Honeyball, Ball, Holding, Bailey (Kennedy 81), Newby, Cvetko, Torres, Hinchcliffe (Abbotts 61), Thomas. Subs not used: Ramsdale, Taras-Nelson, Griffiths.