“A tremendous performance from the lads” beamed Nick Ballinger as a last minute opportunist strike from Tyrike Richards-Burke propelled Town Youth into the semi finals of the MFYL League Cup after a closely fought fifth round tie against a hard working and well organised Newcastle side at a bitingly cold MoodChimp Stadium on Thursday evening.
Town went close to taking the lead in only the third minute when a looping header from Dan Atkins landed on the roof of the net, but as both sides settled down there were few clearcut chances at either end.
George Dawson fired over after cleverly making room for a shot as he worked his way in from the right half way through the first half and a Josh Aspinall-Smyth free kick was unconvincingly pushed away by the Newcastle keeper, but with both defences on top the interval was reached with the game still goal-less.
Only a stunning save from Archie Donaldson prevented Town from falling behind immediately after the restart as he took off to his left to push away a header from the Newcastle centre back which was destined for the top corner.
But as in the first half two evenly matched and committed sides were cancelling each other out and it soon became clear that one goal would probably be enough to win it.
With twenty minutes to go another Donaldson save after a scramble in the Town penalty area kept the scores level before Town began to pile on the pressure in the final quarter of an hour.
Both Bradley West and Harry Hartin – who arrived at the game immediately after returning from a winter sport break in Bulgaria – went close followed by the Newcastle keeper reacting brilliantly to tip over a bullet header from Sacha Everard.
But into the closing minutes and with no extra time scheduled it seemed certain that a deciding penalty shootout would be needed until with less than 30 seconds remaining West latched onto a through ball down the middle to go clear on goal.
Forced out wide as the keeper came out to meet him West admirably kept his composure and squared the ball across to Richards-Burke who fired it past a covering defender on the line to spark wild Town celebrations while a dejected Newcastle barely had time to kick off before the final whistle sounded.