The Northumberland FA U18 representative side were victorious in their opening game against Sheffield & Hallamshire FA, winning 4-1 on the road with goals from Sam Dibb-Fuller (2), Jamie-Lee Statt and Louis Calvert.
Association of Northern Counties East Division
Sheffield & Hallamshire FA 1-4 Northumberland FA
Saturday 20th October 2018
Sheerien Park, the former home of Shaw Lane AFC, was host to the two sides on a glorious October afternoon in South Yorkshire - Northumberland playing in red and Sheffield turning out in white.
The core of the squad from last season had moved on which gave opportunities for a completely new haul of players from the region. And the new-look side didn’t disappoint as Northumberland wasted no time, dominating the early stages of the game.
New Hatley’s Robbie Christie was quick to create the first opportunity as the full back dribbled down the left hand side, cutting inside and releasing a tame effort into the hands of Sheffield’s Louis Hobson.
The early chance was a sign for things to come. Captain, Paul Van, went close minutes later with a header and Prudhoe Youth Club’s Sam Dibb-Fuller forced a save from the edge of the box.
Northumberland finally broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Vinnie Proudlock was fouled outside the area. None other than Dibb-Fuller then stepped up and curled the ball around the wall and into the back of the net.
The team grew in confidence after the goal and tested Hobson from range, Proudlock and Christie both missing the target with speculative efforts.
On 30 minutes Dibb-Fuller doubled his tally - the winger being right place and right time to slot into an almost open goal following a squared ball across the box.
However, straight from the restart Sheffield managed to claw one back, going up the pitch and scoring to reduce the gap to a single goal with 14 minutes left the play of the first half.
After the goal Sheffield seemed to worm their way into the game. Firstly, Liam Renwick denying a thunderbolt strike at full stretch, then Joe Pickard tackling last ditch to deny Dylan Somerville a one-on-one opportunity.
It was tense in the first few minutes after the half time break, most notably an under hit back pass from Northumberland nearly handing the ball on a plate for a Sheffield forward before Renwick cleared the danger.
End-to-end exchanges ensued in the following moments, but Northumberland practically put the game to rest on 55 minutes – super sub Jamie-Lee Statt scoring his first county goal, nipping in at the front post and neatly finishing from a low cross.
Louis Calvert seemed adamant to get the on score sheet following the third goal, the forward gambling on a long ball, dispossessing the defender and shooting on target - albeit close but no cigar.
The remainder of the fixture was firmly in the hands of the home side. Sheffield’s Kasib Rasaq troubled the Northumberland defence with an onslaught of crosses to deal with before having a chance of his own – the winger’s deflected shot just bobbling past the back post.
But any hopes of a late comeback were shattered when Calvert finally grabbed his goal, smashing home following a rebound at the death to put the game beyond doubt and give his team the win – 4-1 the final score at 90 minutes.
Northumberland will now look to continue their perfect start to the 2018/19 campaign at home to Nottinghamshire FA next week in the second round of the FA County Youth Cup.
Details will follow in the coming days.
Northumberland FA XI: Renwick, Allen, Christie, Lough, Symonds, Pickard, Van-Zandvliet, Jenkins, Dibb-Fuller, Proudlock, Ward
Subs: Woods, Wilson, Walker, Statt, Calvert
Sheffield & Hallamshire FA XI: Hobson, Peat, Chapman, Greaves, Grant, Pearce, Cooper, Rasaq, Sommerville, Eccles, Rhodes
Subs: Briscoe, Millard, Brunt, Millard, Fox
‘Man of the Match’: Paul Van (Northumberland FA)