U18s progress to Cup final

AFC Wulfrunians U18’s were dealt setbacks before the game had even started when firstly the referee ruled that Jake Webb could not play with his cast on, and then when Marsh and Haynes were ruled out with illness and injury respectively. This meant that manager Jon Purdie had to name a very youthful and inexperienced bench for this high profile county cup semi final against Burton Albion.


Burton started the game well and after two minutes Ratcliffe broke down the left, cut inside Ben Webb and fired a shot against the bar which bounced to safety.


Wulfs responded well and forced a free kick down their left. It was cleared for a corner which resulted in Jack Purdie firing just wide.


Wulfs then pumped another high ball into the box which fell to Bright and he deftly took it round a defender only to be fouled and the referee pointed to the spot. Bright picked himself up and calmly slotted the ball into the far corner to give Wulfs an early lead.


The game then settled down with Burton having a great deal of possession but not troubling the Wulfs defence until the 33rd minute when a through ball fell for Wright to shoot from the edge of the box but Ryan saved well.


Wulfs had a chance to extend their lead when Charlesworth’s long throw was flicked on by Brookes to Gutteridge who forced the ball goalwards but straight at keeper Spence in the Burton goal.


Wulfs began the second half like they had the first and extended the lead on 48 minutes when a long clearance by Ryan was headed back towards his own keeper by Towlson and Brookes nipped in to flick the ball over the keeper and into the empty net.


Wulfs were now soaking up the pressure and hitting Burton on the break and both Bright and Gutteridge had chances to extend the lead before Burton got back into the game on 74 minutes when Pearson conceded a free kick 25 yards out and Stevens drove the ball directly into the top corner to reduce the arrears.


This gave Burton fresh heart and both Smith and Ratcliffe went close before a quick break by substitute on 84 minutes Williamson found Stevens and his low cross was turned in at the far post by Russell to tie the game up at 2-2.


Wulfs tried to up their game and Wilkinson played in Bright who got the wrong side of the defence only to be hauled down by the Burton defender just outside the box. The free kick came to nothing but Wulfs continued to press and in the 90th minute Bright was fouled near the left touchline. Gutteridge swept the free kick into the box and Whatton forced the ball home from close range to restore Wulfs lead.


In stoppage time Burton created one final chance and as the ball dropped to Alexander who hammered the ball against the bar as the referee blew for full time to give Wulfs the result they fully deserved, despite the adversity, and a place in the final at St Andrews.


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