Academy lift first national title after tense penalty shootout win in Walsall
South Shields academy lifted their first national trophy after overcoming Basford United on penalties on a dramatic night in Walsall on Wednesday.
In the first of a double-header of national finals for the young Mariners, Shields deservedly took a 1-0 lead into half-time thanks to a sweet strike by Arron Thompson.
Basford gained a foothold in the second half, though, and two goals in four minutes from Kyeron Daws turned the game on its head and tested Shields’ character.
They responded in superb style, though, and almost immediately brought themselves back on level terms with a terrific finish by David Allasan into the top corner.
The match ultimately went to penalties, with Tom Bexton, Thompson, Olly Scott, Jake Dunn and Callum Guy all converting from the spot, while Jacob Bramley saved one spot-kick to deliver the young Mariners their first trophy: the National League Under-19 Alliance League Cup.
Shields started brightly at the Banks’s Stadium and almost took the lead early on when Scott fired a ball across the area which Allasan turned over after a fine run.
Max Cowburn saw two efforts saved before the Mariners took the lead in the 26th minute.
Thompson showed patience in the middle before playing in Allasan on the right of the box, and although goalkeeper Dennell Stokes kicked away his shot, Thompson rifled home the rebound from just inside the area.
Bramley made an impressive save from Niall Hylton before half-time but that was a rare opportunity for Basford, with Guy and Cowburn both going close at the other end.
The young Mariners went close to doubling their advantage 10 minutes into the second half when substitute Dom Minchella motored down the left and squeezed in a low cross for Guy, who was denied by the legs of Stokes.
Another opportunity came and went as a Ben Errington header from a Minchella free-kick was tipped onto the bar and the ball bounced back to him. Shields felt Errington was fouled in the aftermath, but the referee waved away the protests.
Basford equalised against the run of play in the 64th minute when Zak Goodson beat his man on the left of the box before hitting an effort against the post, and Daws was there to finish off the rebound.
Daws made it a quickfire double just four minutes later as a rebound from a free-kick fell to his feet and he rifled the ball home.
Shields’ response was instant and they almost levelled things up within a minute as Guy got in behind on the left and fired a ball into the area which Michael Colquhoun turned over.
They did not have to wait too much longer to make it 2-2, though, and the crucial goal arrived when Guy beat the defence with a terrific through ball and Allasan rifled it into the top corner from the right of the area.
Shields had a number of chances to win it before the 90 minutes were up, but Guy, Minchella and Scott were all frustrated as their efforts went just past the post.
The final therefore went to penalties, but the young Mariners ultimately held their nerve to make it a memorable night.
SSFC Academy: Bramley, Morris (Allen 59), Scott, Thompson, Errington, Bexton (c), Allasan, Carney (Dunn 82), Colquhoun (Marcelino 73), Guy, Cowburn (Minchella 53). Sub not used: Armstrong.
Goals: Thompson (26), Allasan (71).