FA Youth Cup 4th Round
Derby County 3 2 Sheffield United
Derby: Kirby, Turner, Nyatanga, Doyle, Young, Martin, Booth, Wilkinson, Ainsworth, Barnes, Ashton (Stockley 76)
Subs: Richards, Nix, Meredith, Atkins.
Sheffield Utd: Green, Chapman (Eagers 63), Binnion, Travis, Carrick, Rowley, Starosta, Kerry, Robertson, Oliver, Coupe.
Subs: Annerson, Naughton, Quinn, Fairhurst.
Referee Mark Lever.
With Lee Holmes on loan at Swindon Academy director Terry Westley was forced to field a side that, on paper at least, was weaker than the one that had comprehensively dispatched Grimsby in the previous round.
Despite that the Rams played some neat and creative football in midfield and took a 14th minute lead after an even opening period when both sides went close.
Both Chris Coupe and Lloyd Kerry had gone close without hitting the target for the visitors before Ben Wilkinson netted the first goal of the game.
The midfielder, who had already tested keeper Jamie Green in the 4th minute, netted with a crisp volley after good approach play from Lionel Ainsworth and Karl Ashton.
As the half wore on Chris turner and Giles Barnes both had shots that tested the visiting keeper, though Green was up to everything thrown at him.
The Yorkshire outfit were unlucky not to be back on terms in the 37th minute as the result of a goal mouth scramble in the Derby area. Although Nick Travis was able to get a boot to he ball he was unable to get it over the line.
United only had to wait 6 more minutes for the equalizer.
When Ainsworth committed a foul on the edge of the Rams box Ben Kirby was unable to deal with Ben Starosta’s freekick leaving Jordan Robertson to knock the loose ball home, taking the two teams into the halftime break back on terms.
Although it took until the hour mark for the visitors to take the lead there were signs that the breakthrough was about to happen.
Starosa was unlucky to scuff his shot after another scramble on 57 minutes and Robertson was forced into firing over by Dan Martin after working his way into he box 60 seconds later.
It was Travis who put his side ahead from 10 yards out when the Rams defence left him unmarked within sight of goal.
The goal spurred Derby back into action. Martin and Wilkinson were both off target with their efforts before Lionel Ainsworth restored parity on 65 minutes with a superb solo effort working his way into the box before firing home after receiving the ball from Ashton.
Both Martin and substitute Ben Stockley went close but the game seem destined for the extra time and possibly penalties that was deserved on the balance of play throughout the entire match before a moment of controversy gifted the tie to derby and left a bitter taste in the mouth of the visitors.
Once again Ainsworth bored his way into the box before firing wide under pressure from the keeper. The striker tumbled to the ground as a result of his momentum. The referee was the only person in the ground to spot an infringement, as was shown by the lack of complaint from any of the players or from the coaching staff watching on the sidelines.
Mr. Lever, however, pointed to the spot allowing Chris Turner to fire home the winner with 1 minute remaining.
United’s frustration was understandable and the bookings to both Travis for dissent and Binnion for a foul on Turner could only have come from the earlier decision.
The match had to be decided on the night but for all their efforts the two teams should have enjoyed the benefits of resolving the game in a more satisfactory manner during the extra 30 minutes that they deserved.