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FA Youth Cup: Brooks rues Hereford heartache as AFC Bournemouth pay the penalty
HEAD of youth Shaun Brooks admitted Cherries’ youngsters had frozen on their big occasion after tonight’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Hereford United in the FA Youth Cup.
Cherries played out a tepid 1-1 draw at Dean Court before slipping out of the competition 4-3 on spot-kicks as Matt Butcher and Jack Simpson saw their efforts from 12 yards saved by visiting keeper Kyle Moore.
The result brought back painful memories of Cherries’ 11-10 penalty defeat against AFC Totton 12 months ago as a high-profile trip to Manchester City in the fourth round went begging for Dean Court’s under-18 side.
Brooks told the Daily Echo: “We were disappointed by the result but equally so in the performance.
“As a team we didn’t get going until midway through the second half and there was no question the occasion got to the players.
“There was no point where we had control over the game. In the second half we had the better possession but they had the better chances.
“We never truly imposed ourselves on the game like we wanted to but we still have to look at the bigger picture.
“At the end, we sat the lads down and told them their careers wouldn’t hinge on this game. They have had a terrific first half to the season and we have had some very good results.
“The goal is to try and get the players to the stage where they can play at the best level possible.”
There was little to choose between Cherries and their Football League Youth Alliance South & West rivals despite the Dean Court outfit sitting five places above Hereford in the league table ahead of the clash.
After a scrappy opening where moments of quality in the final third were few and far between, United went closest to breaking the deadlock when Cherries’ midfielder Mason Walsh cleared Jamie Gregory’s far post header off the line.
However, after 27 minutes Bulls did open the scoring when Jarrod Bowen darted onto a lofted ball before lobbing over the advancing Jordan Holmes.
Cory Williams could have doubled United’s lead seven minutes before the break after he caught Walsh in possession but drove high and wide following his direct run from deep.
Team manager Paul Groves introduced Luke Holmes at half-time to try and inject some urgency into his side but the match continued to lack any punch.
Jordan Holmes kept Cherries in the game when he smothered Williams’s point-blank finish from Bowen’s fizzing cross six minutes after the interval.
However, the hosts worked their way back into contention and equalised with 11 minutes to play when Butcher nodded down a left-wing cross which Luke Holmes thumped home on the half volley.
Bowen hit the woodwork for Hereford with extra-time looming and while Cherries enjoyed a brief spell of pressure during the additional 30 minutes, United could have nicked it at the death when Ben Miller struck the post following keeper Holmes’s rash moment.
Captain Josh Kaye and Anthony Harris netted in the shoot-out for Cherries before Butcher’s effort was blocked by Moore.
Hereford scored their first four penalties before Jordan Holmes handed Cherries a lifeline by saving with his feet from Cory Saunders.
But with the tie resting on his young shoulders, Simpson’s effort was comfortably saved with Cherries left to rue another near miss.
Cherries: J Holmes, Lee, Buckley (Worthington, 101), Kaye, Randall, Harris, Butcher, Simpson, Quigley (L Holmes, h-t), Roberts (Surridge, 104), Walsh. Unused subs: Fountain, Stanton.
Hereford: Moore, Burgess, Saunders, Murphy, Gregory, Kontic, Bowen (Brock, 108), James (Haines, 99), Williams, Bonella, Miller. Unused subs: Fletcher, Evans.
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