It was a typically cold and miserable wintry afternoon at the FDC Field of Dreams however the crowd were treated to a wonderfully competitive match. Norfolk got the match underway and started the brighter of the two, enjoying large spells of possession and territory inside the opening few minutes.
That led to a fast start from the home side, with full-back Charlie Hitch getting forward at every opportunity and proving a real threat, when his cross just 7 minutes in found the head of Ryan Miles who leapt highest and nodded the ball into the far corner.
Norfolk and Ryan Miles almost doubled their tallies 10 minutes later, with the striker turning his defender inside and out, before drilling a low shot that forced Jersey goalkeeper Dan Birrell to tip round his post.
Jersey responded well though, and a well worked move from Jersey saw striker Sol Solomon dummy a shot to send the defender to ground, before rifling his left footed strike against the upright and away. Norfolk countered and won a free kick, which saw Miles Palmer’s effort again tipped away by the excellent Birrell in the Jersey goal.
The game became an increasingly end-to-end affair that both teams creating plenty of opportunities, however it was Jake Syvret who made Norfolk pay 5 minutes from half-time, getting round his defender and striking the ball low and hard past Billy Johnson.
HALF TIME: Norfolk U18’s 1-1 Jersey U18’s
After an end-to-end first half, both sides began to settle into the game after the interval in order to preserve energy on a particularly heavy pitch, and to also try and carve out the perfect chance to win the game.
Jersey began to pile on the pressure, looking to get the ball out to the wide areas and crossed in again as frequently as possible; however the partnership of Joshua Ford & Isaac Burrage in the centre with Charlie Hitch and Patrick Pye at full-back, looked comfortable for the majority of the game.
Norfolk also posed as a real counter-attacking threat, with Miles Palmer on the right and Jimmy Morrissey out on the left proving to be effective outlets for the home team, and centre forwards Ryan Miles and Archie Galley linking up nicely too.
With the clock moving past the hour mark and neither side really able to create many clear-cut opportunities, there was a feeling that this match could potentially go beyond normal time to settle this tie. However 65 minutes in, a lightning quick counter to pounce on a Jersey error meant that central midfielder Sam Dodden was played in 1-on-1 with Birrell and coolly slotted his effort into the far corner to give Norfolk a crucial lead.
That goal gave Norfolk an immense amount of confidence, and with Gusterson bringing on some fresh legs, they found more and more space in the Jersey defence. It required a number of superb saves from Birrell to keep the visitors in the tie; however it was Norfolk that progressed into the next round of the FA County Youth Cup 2nd Round.
Norfolk U18’s: Johnson (C), Hitch, Pye, Johnson, Burrage, Ford, Palmer, Dodden, Miles, Galley, Morrison.
Subs: Carey, Exley, Hudson, Katsande.
Jersey U18’s: Birrell, Lloyd, Coutanche, Breese, Le Mercier, Martins-Figuiera, Kilshaw, Shirley, Syvret, Solomon, Rivers.
Subs: Packman, Lynam, Marlinko, Donaldson, McCutcheon.