Two Ashington-born teenagers suffered heartache when they narrowly lost a cup final when playing for their college team.
Lewis Robson and Callum Johnston were both in the Gateshead College development side who went down 3-2 against Gloucestershire-based Hartpury in the final of the ESFA’s under-18 College Cup at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.
However, the pair are hoping to have an early opportunity to redress the balance as they will be in the Gateshead under-19s squad who this week face Doncaster-based Balby Carr College in the semi-final of the national play-offs.
The winners will meet Milton Keynes College in the final at the Keepmoat, on Wednesday May 11.
The under-18s were a goal down after only 45 seconds but levelled shortly afterwards through Jon Mellish.
Hartpury – the holders – scored twice before the interval, and although Ollie Martin netted from a penalty in the final minute of the contest, the Gateshead side were on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller.
However Robson and Johnston were united in their thoughts: “It was heartache in a way because we conceded so early,” they said.
“Before the game we had talked about if we shipped a goal, not to allow it to affect us and to keep our heads up, not get disheartened and enjoy the game.
“We got back to 1-1 before Hartpury went 3-1 up before the interval.
“Overall we were unlucky on the day and it was disappointing. We had conceded only one goal in the whole of the competition and that was in semi-final.
“Now we are hoping to have a chance to redeem ourselves on a much bigger occasion with the under-19s and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed.”
Paul Baker, football co-ordinator at the college, was immensely proud of the under-18s, despite the reverse.
“I was very proud of the boys to reach a national country-based final,” he said.
“We have had quite a hectic season, especially near the end playing five to six games in 20 days, and have done well to finish runners-up.
“We have played better during the season but on the day Hartpury probably deserved it.”
Newcastle-born Baker continued: “Many of the under-19s side are the same players and they have a double incentive to get back to the Keepmoat.
“Manager John Gamble is recovering from a hip replacement and the lads have the opportunity to give him a lift by getting the right result, which would put them into the play-off final.”