Attleborough Town became Norfolk U12's Cup Winners at Harrod Sport Arena on Friday night in a thrilling game against Horsford U12's that had to be decided by a the first penalty shoot out of the 21/22 Norfolk County Cup Finals.
Horsford took the lead in the first half through Riley Lutkin before a double in the second half from Rio Smith Roach and Archie Cook saw Town take the lead. A late equaliser from Kyron Rennie saw the game go to a penalty shoot out.
The shootout went to sudden death with each team taking a total of 12 penalty kicks before Attleborough Town were crowned champions, winning the shootout 11-10.
Horsford started on the front foot, pressing high and creating chances early on. Riley Lutkin looked dangerous from the first minute showing good pace, and might have scored when put through by Cody Ellwood, however George McAleeese superbly blocked the shot for a corner.
Kyron Rennie met the corner from Archie Wright and called Liam Barber into action who was able to pull off a point-blank stop. A second corner saw Lutkin header wide as Horsford piled the pressure on to get an opening goal.
It looked to be one way traffic until a driving run from Rio Smith-Roach opened up the game and enabled him to release Connor pope. The number 9 unleashed a powerful shot which was superbly stopped by the sharp Ashton Brown.
The action was then end-to-end with Harry Lambourne shooting just wide for Horsford, whilst Attleborough’s Smith-Roach saw his long range free kick gathered by Brown.
After a frantic first 15 minutes the game began to settle with both teams taking more time to pass the ball around, however the tempo was still high and both teams were looking to create chances whenever in possession.
Attleborough then had their best chance to go ahead, with Smith-Roach driving forward once again. After bypassing several greens and reaching the edge of the area, he calmly side footed it across to Fred Fitzgerald. Brown made a superb save once again, only for a Horsford defender to make the block as Fitzgerald struck the rebound. After a short scramble, the ball eventually travelled wide of the left post.
Only moments later Horsford thought they’d taken the lead when Lutkin played a one-two, received the ball back inside the area, cut back onto his right foot and curled a great shot that looked destined to hit the top corner. Barber leaping at full stretch, somehow got his fingertips to the ball to poke it round the corner post in an outstanding save.
Up the other end Pope brought the ball down with a fantastic touch and crossed to Fitzgerald whose first-time strike evaded the crossbar.
For all of Horsford’s nice build up play, it was a long-range free kick that saw them break the deadlock just before half time.
Wright delivered the set piece, which was met by a Town head, only to be directed up and back over the stranded Barber, and whilst the back line scrambled to try and clear, Lutkin was on hand to tap it over the line.
On the stroke of half time Horsford thought they’d doubled their lead when Lutkin was on hand to capitalise on a defensive mix up once again.
However, despite great anticipation and a brilliant first touch around the keeper, he could only direct the final shot wide. His blushes were saved when the Assistant raised his flag just as the Referee blew to signal the end of what had been a hugely entertaining half.
Half-Time: Attleborough Town 0 - 1 Horsford
The game started in the same way as the first period with Horsford pushing high and looking to get an early goal.
They nearly did when Lutkin once again latched onto a pass, but the assistant raised his flag for offside as the number 14 took his strike. Barber was not aware of the decision and still managed to make a great save to tip the ball onto the bar.
Arguably against the run of play in the opening minutes, Town took their chance to level the game.
Beginning to push forward, positive play saw the blues gain a corner. A good delivery saw the Horsford back line struggle to clear and after a few bounces in the area, Smith-Roach was on hand to stab the ball goalward and past Brown.
The equaliser gave Attleborough renewed confidence and they almost took the lead only moments later when a deep free kick from McAleese was met by Smith-Roach. Brown reacted well to parry the header away, only for Fitzgerald to meet the rebound and force Brown into a superb double save before the Horsford defence managed to clear.
With the game getting lively once again, Horsford were pushing forward, determined to turn the tide back in their favour. An Ellwood long throw caused problems for the Town back line and substitute Lucas Pratt was on hand to fire home only for the Referee to disallow the strike due to handball.
As the final ten minutes approached Attleborough produced a moment of quality to take the lead. Archie Cook picked up the ball on the left-hand side, raised his head, and took a touch onto his right foot. A beautiful strike from 20 yards rose up and dipped over Brown, swerving into the top right corner and in off the upright.
Only moments later the game was even once again when Kyron Rennie latched onto a through ball and showed just enough pace to reach beat Barber and poked it into the bottom corner resulting in rapturous celebrations from the crowd and players alike.
Rennie could have snatched it in the final 5 when he found himself in the danger area once again, he struck the ball low on the side volley, but Barber was alert to claim and smother.
As stoppage time was announced Smith-Roach won a free kick having gone on another long drive. Cook struck the ball well but Brown was able to claim with relative ease.
Both teams worked hard to defend in the final minutes of the game, and the Referee blew the final whistle with a fantastic fixture between two brilliant teams needing penalty kicks to separate them.
With a score of 4-4 after the normal shootout, it went to sudden death and took a total of 12 rounds to separate the teams. In the end an unfortunate miss from Horsford saw Attleborough win the shootout 11-10 and with it become the 21/22 Norfolk U12’s Cup Winners.
Full-Time: Attleborough Town 2* - 2 Horsford
(Attleborough Town win 11-10 on penalties)
Attleborough Town: Liam Barber, Zak Potter, George McAleese ©, Oscar Russell, Fred Fitzgerald, Connor Pope, Roman Hancy, Archie Cook, Rio Smith-Roach.
Subs: Alfie Ring, Toby Griffiths, Dawson Talbot.
Horsford: Ashton Brown, Archie Wright, Hayden Chapman ©, Harrison Dunmow, Harrison Dunmow, Harry Lambourne, Kyron Rennie, Max Francis, Riley Lutkin, Cody Ellwood.
Subs: Lewis Rose, Charlie Whitlam, Lucas Pratt, Auston Hilldrup.
Referee: Alexander Vasey
Assistants: Matthew Cotton & Samuel Howden
Fourth Official: Paul Chapman
Player of the Match: Rio Smith-Roach
Photographer: Hannah Parnell