Longhoughton Rangers 3 North Shields Juniors 2 (aet)
Longhoughton U12s’ great start to the season continued with victory in a fiercely contested cup match against Division Two table-toppers North Shields.
From the kick-off, Longhoughton took the game to the juniors, Ben Lawton working a one-two with Joseph Cormack and creating an effort out of nothing, dragging it just wide of the upright.
On 10 minutes, Rangers edged in front with a wonderful piece of one-touch football.
Patterson, Cormack and Lawton ripped through the North Shields midfield, leaving William striding in on goal, out-muscling his marker and finishing with a low drive past the stranded keeper (1-0).
This seemed to jolt the Juniors into action and prompted some stout defending from Brooks, Luke and Atkinson, limiting North Shields to long-range efforts easily collected by Stephenson in the Rangers goal.
The last action of the half saw a 25-yard thunderbolt free-kick from Kristian Atkinson fly inches over the Juniors’ crossbar and kept Rangers with a 1-0 half-time lead.
As the second half kicked off, Rangers hardly had time to blink as the visitors steamed forward and grabbed an equaliser.
A quick pass found the Juniors’ forward on the edge of the box, his first-time strike being blocked by Stephenson, but he could only watch as the rebounding ball fell perfectly at the feet of a midfielder following up and he blasted it into the far corner (1-1).
With their tails up, theJuniors pressed Rangers back into their own half and were duly rewarded with a penalty.
A cross/shot hit a Longhoughton arm just inside the box and the resultant penalty was despatched with aplomb (1-2).
This stung Longhoughton into action and a sustained period of pressure brought its reward with the goal of the game.
A smart piece of play from Alex Threlfall found Ben Lawton in the Juniors penalty area. Surrounded by three or four defenders, he jinked his way free and laid the ball out to Lewis Fairbairn on the left edge of the box.
His first-time strike had him wheeling away to celebrate as it screamed over the sprawling keeper into the top right corner (2-2).
As the game headed into extra-time, the Longhoughton never-say-die spirit came to the fore. Their unrelenting pressure eventually broke North Shields hearts when a loose pass was pounced on by Ben Lawton, whose pin-point pass sent Fairbairn racing away on goal.
Shrugging off a challenge, Lewis hammered in a shot that the keeper could only parry straight to the grateful Lawton who rifled his shot hard and low into the bottom corner (3-2).
A great show of spirit and a well-deserved win for Longhoughton.