A brave performance was not enough for Sheffield FC’s Youth Team on Wednesday evening, as they fell just short in the Third Qualifying Round at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham, losing 3-2 in a highly entertaining match up.
The tempo for the game was set very early on, as in the opening seconds Max Rhodes found himself with a gaping hole in front of him with just the Wrexham keeper to beat, Ben Tinkley was able to block the initial shot with Alex Wonham’s follow-up closed down by the defence.
Inside 60 seconds of this let off the home side responded with a goal, Callum Huxley delivering a free-kick into the box, with Jake Bickerstaff getting his head on the ball to steer it beyond the Sheffield defence.
Huxley was orchestrating all the danger for the home side, and after the winger was allowed to skip through the Club defence once again, his cross was somehow scooped over the bar by Kyle Robinson-Murray.
Wrexham’s next opportunity also started with Huxley, a threaded ball through the middle found Bickerstaff, with Sheffield keeper Owen Evans doing excellently to save a seemingly innevitable goal.
On 21 minutes Sheffield drew level, a defensive error saw a goal-kick land at the feet of Wonham on the edge of the area, who in turn dug the ball to Rhodes who drove a fierce shot into the net.
The game started to balance up somewhat at this point and just before the half Sheffield had the ball in the net – Sam Penney sending in a perfect free-kick to the box, with Wonham timing his run from deep to perfection – only to have the goal amazingly chalked off for offside.
That disallowed goal cost Sheffield dearly, and from the off in the second period the home side went on an all-out assault on the away goal, with Club keeper Evans making an unbelievable series of reflex saves to deny Wrexham in a few seconds of absolute bedlam which saw the stopper make seven blocks in a goalmouth melee.
The keeper was also at his best to tip a Huxley free-kick onto the bar, but there was nothing he could do on 67 minutes as he blocked Jac Humphreys’ shot, only to parry the ball into the path of Matthew Jones who smashed home from two yards out.
It was a decidedly contentious decision that took the game beyond Sheffield with six minutes to go, skipper Jamie Cowan seemed to get to his foot to the ball in the area only for Jones to fall in the area – the referee pointed to the spot, and Bickerstaff made no mistake with the penalty.
Club made it a nervous last few minutes for the hosts a minute later though, Alex Wonham saw the keeper off his line, and sailed a shot over his head and into the net from 45 yards out.
Wrexham were able to see their last few minutes out safely, and held on to the whistle, giving them a Round One trip to Long Eaton United.
Wrexham AFC: Ben Tinkley, Jamie Nash, Cian Williams, Max Cleworth, Bobby Beaumont (c), Matthew Jones, Sam Williams, Jac Humphreys, Jake Bickerstaff, Kyle Robinson-Murray, Calum Huxley. Subs: Ryan Austin, Billy Nicholas, Luke Urey, Jack Allen, Lewis Parry.
Sheffield FC: Owen Evans, Hanniel Kouassi, Harrison Radford, Jamie Cowan, Esmond Takyi, Brad Pearce, Callum McKeown, Sam Penney, Alex Wonham, Max Rhodes, Jack Hackford. Subs: Benny Ndlovu, Tom Kirkland, Blake Suttie, Ethan Webster, Ethan Hall.