Aldershot battled bravely with 10 men and rescued a game they were seemingly out of at the death but ultimately fell to defeat on penalties as Gosport Borough advanced in the FA Youth Cup.
The young Shots started sharply and forced the Gosport ‘keeper into an early save. Harvey Limb launched a powerful effort which needed to be tipped over the bar. The following corner was cleared but right-back George Mackie launched an audacious dipping effort from near 40 yards out which only narrowly went over.
Gosport had their first shot at goal in the 13th minute. Advancing from deep, their number eight gave Finlay Westen his first call of action but it was a comfortable gather.
Neither side were able to dominate possession or truly threaten either ‘keeper again until the 40th minute when Gosport’s number nine raced through but blasted his shot over the bar and out of the ground.
Tyrone Shiham had The Shots first chance of the second-half. Hitting a snapshot half-volley from outside the box, his effort flew narrowly wide.
Westen was tested for the first time in the 53rd minute when he had to make a good save from a close-range effort. The stopper then bravely pounced on the rebound, being fouled in the process.
The youngster was the busier of the two ‘keepers, early in the second-half. Just after the hour, Westen got down well to save and hold a powerful, low free-kick.
The Shots seemed to be buoyed on by Gosport’s early chances and created a few of their own. Harvey Limb came the closest to opening the scoring when he hit the inside of the post. Substitute Flynn Bolton with a brilliantly weighted ball to set Limb through.
Gosport then had their ‘keeper to thank for keeping the scored at 0-0. A Finn Evans free-kick from 25 yards out was well saved low down before he was up quickly to save at his near post as Ryan Griffiths looked to pounce on the loose ball.
The game then changed as Adam Khan Ahmed was shown a straight red card in the 73rd minute. The central-midfielder slid in late on the Borough right-back but made minimal, if any, contact with the referee deeming the challenge to be dangerous enough to warrant marching orders.
Shots were temporarily down to nine men with centre-back Archie Harris off receiving treatment but Griffiths showed nifty feet to beat a couple of men down the left before seeing his shot blocked.
Aldershot hearts were broken in the 92nd minute. As the hosts looked to make their numerical advantage count, they launched a sharp counter attack and Gosport’s number nine found some space in the box and finished into the bottom corner.
Broken but not out! The young Shots rallied in the face of defeat and Ryan Griffiths rescued the tie for Aldershot in the 95th minute. The substitute scored a fantastic first-time finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box with his side seemingly down and out and the tie went to penalties.
The shootout was a brilliant display of calmness and finishing from 12 yards with all 13 of the first takers scoring. But unfortunately someone had to miss and after a brilliant and determined performance from Archie Harris – who played for 20 minutes as a makeshift striker with an injury – had his spot kick saved.
Shots lineup: 1. Finlay Westen, 2. George Mackie (15. Ryan Griffiths 68′), 3. Callum Mackie, 4. Tom Hill (c), 5. Archie Harris, 6. Fraser Trickey, 7. Tyrone Shiham, 8. Adam Khan Ahmed, 9. Harvey Limb (17. Finn Evans 68′), 10. Puje Tjakuva (16. Flynn Bolton 55’), 11. Joe Lewis-Evans. Subs not used: 12. Kian Smith, 13. Max West, 14. Harry Hurst, 18. Ibrahim Diallo.