Triumphant Takayo pops up late to tee-up Cheshire date for Gloucestershire Under-18s
TAKAYO Nembhard was the hero for Gloucestershire FA Under-18s as his thrilling injury-time winner sent his team into the fourth round of the FA County Youth Cup.
The debutant marksman pounced in the second of five stoppage-time minutes to see his overjoyed team past Birmingham FA with a 3-2 Oaklands Park victory to keep them on course for the big national prize.
Gloucestershire will now face Cheshire FA for a next key appointment on either Saturday, January 12 or Saturday 19 (2pm), again on their familiar 3G surface at county HQ in Almondsbury.
First they had to see off the considerable challenge of Birmingham’s own rep hopefuls and Gloucestershire started strongly enough in a game dominated by a fierce swirling wind, enjoying the better of the early exchanges and hitting a post in the eighth minute with a shot from James Okell.
Eventually the tenacious home side took a 22nd-minute lead when a terrier-like Harry Simons put pressure on the Birmingham goalkeeper, who had the ball at his feet, and managed to whip it away from him with a good tackle before turning and clinically finding an open net.
The strong gusts continued to make ground football difficult, but that didn’t deter Birmingham right-back Nathaniel Christie from going close to restoring parity with a 20-yard attempt that drifted wide.
Nevertheless the hosts entered the interval holding a slender but deserved lead, although their opponents were to come out fighting in the second half, pushing Gloucestershire back with Josh Beard a big influence in midfield.
The Glos boys held their lead until the 60th minute when a big deflection brought about Birmingham’s equaliser. Daniel Hurst’s shot from 20 yards out cannoned off an unfortunate home defender and found its way into the net.
The visitors were now on top and looking likely winners. That was until an excellent move down the right involving Andre Freckleton ended with a hard low cross from the by-line fizzed in by Jay Murray being deflected into his own net by the luckless Birmingham goalkeeper for 2-1.
Determined defending kept Gloucestershire’s narrow lead intact until the 84th minute when Samuel Cudjoe-Yankton blocked an attempted pass out from home custodian Joe Wright, who could only watch on in dismay as the ball trickled into the corner of his net to level the scores once more.
Yet there was to be a further twist as an absorbing tie was settled in the second of five minutes of injury-time.
Another excellent right-sided move led to Murray sending over another inviting delivery for a jubilant Nembhard, on his first outing in county colours, to steer the ball into the bottom corner from 15 yards out for that delicious stoppage-time decider.
With thanks to Derek Cumner for his report. Stand by for reflections from delighted Glos boss Calum Wands on a famous win, and that fourth-round draw with Cheshire FA, on GFA Local Football News in coming days.