Conway goal enough to see Northumberland U16s through in ESFA Trophy

Northumberland U16s with local author Sharon Karaa, left, who is sponsoring the team this year, and, right, her husband Roch Karaa, the U16 goalkeeping coach.
Northumberland U16s with local author Sharon Karaa, left, who is sponsoring the team this year, and, right, her husband Roch Karaa, the U16 goalkeeping coach.

A solitary goal from Northumberland’s dominant attacking performance was enough to see them to progress to the next round of the ESFA National Cup.

Northumberland set about Lincolnshire in positive fashion, setting the pace right from the start.

After only a few minutes Joe Conway (Whitley Bay HS) showed excellent control and played in Aaron Kooistra (St Thomas More), but his powerful shot flew wide.

The home side dominated the midfield battle early on with the impressive Jamie Beckwith (Ponteland HS) playing in full back Leif Davis (Astley HS) who also screwed his shot wide.

It was not until half way through the first half that Northumberland hit the target, when excellent pressure by Owen Gourley (King’s Priory) allowed him to play in Jerry Mamuini (Heaton Manor) whose well struck shot brought a sharp save from the Lincolnshire goalkeeper.

Chances were flowing for Northumberland, but nobody was showing the composure in front of goal to make the breakthrough. Davis who was supplying some outstanding deliveries from set pieces put in an in-swinging corner which Beckwith at the back post failed to finish, despite having the goal at his mercy.

Another great ball in by Davis picked out the head of Gourley, who somehow put his header over the crossbar from six yards out.

The link-up play between Northumberland’s midfield and forwards was cutting Lincolnshire open with ease.

Again Gourley was in the thick of the action when he played in Conway, whose delightful cross was miss-hit by Mamuini, putting his shot wide when it looked easier to score.

Lincolnshire had been reduced to the odd counter attack and long distance shot, which were easily dealt with by Northumberland goalkeeper Will Hogarth (Ponteland HS).

Just before half-time Northumberland wasted another two glorious opportunities.

Firstly, the influential Jake Jensen (Ponteland HS) supplied Conway with a one-on-one chance and he cut back inside only for his shot to be smothered by a combination of defenders and goalkeeper.

Then Jensen played in Davis with an excellent through ball, and his powerful run to the by-line allowed him to pull the ball back to the on-rushing Jensen whose shot missed the target by inches.

Northumberland started the second half in similar fashion to the first.

Jensen, having an outstanding game in the middle of the park, struck a stinging drive which the goalkeeper could only parry, while Mamuini, with the goal at his mercy, blazed the ball over the bar.

By this time, Northumberland were starting to wonder if missed chances would ultimately cost them.

However, the breakthrough finally came midway through the half when a powerful run and cross into the box by full back Kooistra fell to the feet of Mamuini, and when his shot was blocked, Conway pounced and brilliantly turned and smashed a left foot shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The home side continued to create chances to add to their tally with substitute Jack Butler (KEVI Morpeth) hitting the post and then having another effort well saved by the substitute Lincolnshire goalkeeper.

During the last few minutes Lincolnshire pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but Northumberland’s defence stood firm and was well marshalled by skipper Jack Cooper (Monkseaton HS).

Northumberland saw the game out to claim a 1-0 win which in true reflection should have been at least five or six. Northumberland now await their opponents in round three of the ESFA Inter-County Trophy.