FOOTBALL: Rugby Town Youth Team through in County FA Cup

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Five star performance against Walsall Wood

Birmingham County FA Cup

Walsall Wood 0

Rugby Town Youth Team 5

It’s been great week of cup football for Rugby Town JFC in partnership with the Strachan Football Foundation after disposing of Stourbridge in the Birmingham County FA Cup on Monday night,

The game started with Rugby having the early possession and chances were created from the very first minute with Sam Lockley being denied with a tackle from a Walsall defender in the box after 45 seconds. Rugby passed the ball well on a very soft pitch which some teams may have struggled to play on, the central defensive partnership of Captain Lewis Ison and Ethan Flaig stood strong to the direct approach of the opposition both players showing calmness in possession, commitment in the tackle and set the platform for Rugby to be able to play out from the back.

The central midfield of Sam Bethell and Gabe Barnwell was key to Rugby’s success. They met the physical challenge of the game but were the catalyst of Rugby’s passing play. Width was provided by the relentless work rate of full backs Connor Gamble and Lewis Hudson, their commitment and energy levels working up and down the flanks enabled Jordan Ponticelli and Ephraim Pepe to work in field and create chances for themselves and others.

On the 28th minute good work to regain the ball and some quick feet to avoid a defender by Ephraim Pepe who slid the ball into the path of Jordan Ponticelli who neatly chipped the ball over the oncoming Walsall keeper to make it 1-0.

More pressure from Rugby created a chance on the 31st minute all manufactured from the industrious work of number 9 Sam Lockley, Sam thwarted the Walsall centre half in possession nicked the ball off him near the corner flag and drove into the Walsall box squeezing a left footed shot between two oncoming defenders which struck the post and was swiftly cleared by the Walsall defenders.

More chances were created by Rugby which were unconverted, but it was not all one way in the first half and keeper Liam Phipps was called into action on two occasions, where he smartly saved a long distance effort tipping the ball top handed over the bar. At the second opportunity Phipps was quickly off his line to smother the ball before the Walsall striker could get to it.

In the 35th minute there was a change in the number 10 position. The heavy pitch didn’t seem to suit Max Johnson’s style of play as he seemed to struggle with the conditions and was replaced by Alex Webb.

Half Time Walsall Wood 0 – 1 Rugby Town JFCA constructive half time team talk from the management team of Dan Elliott and Chay Thompson certainly inspired Rugby as they came out and put in a very good performance in the second half.

Rugby’s fitness levels were clear to see and helped them keep possession what felt like the whole half. On 61 minutes Rugby won a free kick at least 30 yards from goal. Sam Bethell set up to take the free kick which he drilled into the very top left corner of the Walsall net leaving the keeper without any hope of saving.

Rugby continued to dominate in possession and chances were created throughout the next 30 minutes of play. Sam Lockley was on fine form his work rate, desire and attitude to work for the team was very impressive he put in a fine performance. Sam was rewarded for all his hard work on 68 minutes when Alex Webb split the Walsall back four with a great through ball into Lockley’s path where he confidently guided the ball past the left hand of the Walsall keeper.

Rugby’s midfield were dominant in the second half, the work rate and consistency of Gabe Barnwell was impressive, the introduction of Alex Webb was key to the game changing as he showed confidence and craft was the provider for numerous opportunities created. It was Sam Lockley’s persistence which won a corner for Rugby on 78 minutes which Alex Webb swung into the box for captain Lewis Ison to leap above the Walsall defenders and powerfully head the ball underneath the Walsall keeper.

Walsall Wood did not give up and worked until the very last whistle, but they were unable to stop Sam Lockley from getting his second goal of the evening. On 83 minutes Alex Webb nicked the ball in midfield, laying it off to Danny Bowes who played a pinpoint first-time ball in behind the Walsall defence for Sam Lockley to run clear, his first effort was well saved by the Walsall keeper but Sam made no mistake in the second attempt, smashing in the rebound into the right hand corner of the net.

Overall a good night of cup football, three very good officials who were excellent throughout and a fully committed performance from Rugby to advance into the next round of the MFYL League Cup. The team return to league action on Thursday when they entertain Coleshill and then on Monday they face Newcastle Town in the quarter-final of the league cup, 7.45pm KO, all support would be very welcome.

Team 1.L Phipps 2.C.Gamble 3. LHudson 4. S Bethell 5. L Ison (Capt) 6. E Flaig 7. E Pepe (45mins) 8. G Barnwell (75mins) 9. S Lockley 10. M Johnson (35mins) 11.J Ponticelli (70 mins)

Subs: A. Webb (35mins) , L Doherty (70 mins) , D Bowes (45mins) , B.Badu (75 mins)

Goals: J Ponticelli , S Bethell , S Lockley x 2 , L Ison