F.C. HALIFAX 1 – 0 SPSFC U18s
It was a determined and resolute performance from the boys at the MBi SHAY Stadium on Tuesday night and indeed the result hard to swallow in terms of the manner and timing of the Will Middleton own goal. Middleton had had a fine evening until the 88th minute when a hopeful left wing cross struck him on the right knee and looped over the helpless Jordan Greaves into the net. A cruel, undeserved way to lose a game where SPS matched a talented FC Halifax side all the way.
The first half lacked quality throughout, littered with unforced errors and each team giving the ball away cheaply and although both Goalkeepers commanded their respective areas very well from crosses and dead ball situations there was little for them to do in open play.
It was credit to our boys that a skilful and lively Home team was restrained and held quite comfortably in terms of limiting chances and opportunities. The boys did well and controlled large parts of the game with lengthy passages of play but often lost possession with poor touch or knowhow in important areas of the pitch. FC Halifax were always a threat on the break with bright inventive football up until the last third where it tended to fizzle out.
The first half panned out even stevens really as it was nip and tuck all the way, the nearest to a goal was an SPS attack where Sam Kassim fired a shot from 18 yards which was heading for the corner but Kyle Trenerry the Halifax goalkeeper dived and stretched to tip around the post. From the resulting Will Middleton corner Joe Martini headed wide from close range.
The second half started with SPS on the front foot Sam Kassim volleying straight at the keeper from 20 yards then Halifax countered, opened up the SPS defence but again were thwarted, caught out offside.
Panic in the home penalty box when a great Will Middleton corner was met by Jack Hudson whose header was saved, tipping the ball over as it looked destined for the top corner.
On 65 minutes Matt Murphy was replaced by Sam Evans and Evans was soon in the thick of things clearing a dangerous Halifax corner with his head. Both teams were threatening to break the deadlock with good football across the pitch but much of the forward play was halted with good, solid defensive work from both sides. Halifax boys were tiring, one or two cramping up but SPS could not find a way through.
Harry Hurst should have done better with a free header at the far post heading it wide just past the post
FC Halifax scored on 88 minutes...A mix up down the SPS right gave away a throw in which was taken quickly catching our boys ball watching and out of position James Sunderland seized the opportunity, the Halifax forward sprinted down the left fired in a fierce low cross which hit Middleton on the right knee.
The boys rallied but it was all to no avail as crosses, corners and long dead ball situations pumped into the box were comfortably dealt with by the Halifax defence.
All in all a great experience for the lads and a tremendous display of effort and commitment from both sets of players was a pleasure to watch. Thanks to FC Halifax for their hospitality and good luck to them for the next round.