Cruel defeat in final for impressive Terriers
After a superb season, Town’s Under-18 side can be proud despite a 1-0 defeat at QPR’s Loftus Road in the Under-18 Professional Development League 2 Final.
The young Terriers were undone by a debatable penalty decision for holding in the final minute of the first half, with Rangers Captain Peter Skapetis slotting home to win the tie.
Despite this, Town should great character, desire and no lack of quality to boss second-half possession – but couldn’t work the home goalkeeper enough and get back in the tie.
Frankie Bunn and Tony Carss set their side out in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, with goalkeeper Ed Wilczynski protected by a back four of Bradley Carroll, William Boyle, Joe Wilkinson and Captain Thomas Briggs.
Danny Morton and top scorer Duane Holmes were the deeper lying midfield players behind the more advanced trio of left winger George Conway, the central Kedesh Goddard and right-sided Jake Charles – leaving Paul Mullin to lead the line in attack.
The first half was very competitive, with the hosts providing a strong and powerful opposition. QPR had conceded fewer goals than any other side in the Professional Development League 2 setup and you could see why, but Town matched them throughout the opening 45 minutes.
With Mark Robins watching on from the stands, QPR looked to hit the wingers at every opportunity and good battles were developing between them and Town’s full backs, but as a result the Terriers probably conceded more corners than Bunn and Carss would have liked in the first half. Thankfully, goalkeeper Ed Wilczynski was in supremely confident form – coming to claim the ball on several occasions.
Wilczynski also made a couple of good saves during the first period. In the 6th minute he sprang from his line to deny winger Young after a lucky deflection sent the ball his way and he also made routine saves from striker Skapetis and Dylan Carreiro, but his best save came from right back Darnell Furlong. A 36th minute slip from George Conway gave the defender space to shoot, but Wilczynski expertly tipped his swerving shot over the bar.
At the other end the Terriers were passing the ball well and pressing high up the pitch to get their chances, with top scorer Duane Holmes looking a threat every time he picked up possession in midfield. Winger Jake Charles was up against a giant left back in the hulking Emmanuel Monthe, but he still went inches away from opening the scoring in the 17th minute – drifting infield before driving just wide of the near post with his favoured left foot.
Holmes went close himself with a 42nd minute free-kick after impressive 16 year-old left back Bradley Carroll was brought down on the edge of the box, but his well-hot drive was too close to ‘keeper Joe Lumley.
Then came the hammer blow two minutes later. QPR’s Cole Kpekawa overhit his in-swinging corner into the area and the chance looked to be gone, but referee Constantine Hatzidakis decided that centre half Joe Wilkinson was illegally impeding his marker and pointed to the penalty spot – much to everyone’s surprise. Up stepped striker Skapetis, who gave Wilczynski no chance with his calm shot into the corner from 12 yards out.
Town missed a glorious chance just three minutes into the second half when Jake Charles charged down a clearance and the ball fell perfectly to Paul Mullin inside the area, but uncharacteristically the 14 goal striker hit a tame shot at the goalie from close range.
The Terriers bossed possession in spells of the second half, but struggled to truly work the goalkeeper. Danger man Holmes fired wide after a good combination with Briggs down the right and he was becoming an increasingly instrumental figure in the game.
The introduction of 15 year-old striker Rekeil Pyke to the game brought further Town pressure with 25 minutes left, but the final ball just wouldn’t drop to Town inside the area. The substitute almost got on the end of one long Danny Morton drive into the penalty area with 20 minutes left, but the ball dropped just behind him and the chance was gone.
With some tired legs on both sides towards the end of the game, goalkeeper Lumley was penalised by the referee for the rarely seen six second rule – awarding Town an indirect free-kick inside the area. The ball was touched to Jake Charles, but left back Monthe bravely charged out and blocked his shot.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Ed Wilczynski; Bradley Carroll, William Boyle, Joe Wilkinson, Thomas Briggs (c); Danny Morton, Duane Holmes; George Conway (Ben Holmes 56), Kedesh Goddard (Rekeil Pyke 63), Jake Charles; Paul Mullin
Sam Guthrie, Fraser Horsfall, Ryan Cox
Joe Wilkinson (45); Kedesh Goddard (54)