Fleetwood Town’s Under-18s secured their spot in the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night, beating Tranmere Rovers 4-3 on penalties at Highbury.
Goals from Donte Thompson-Prempeh, Kyle King, and Harry Clarke saw Town take the first cup tie in the competition this season all the way to a shootout, cancelling out Tranmere’s goals scored by Sam Taylor, Blake Bamgbose, and John-James King.
Will Johnson scored Town’s first penalty, with Trialist A and King following. Even though Oli Leggett struck over the bar with his spot-kick, Clarke was up fifth and fired into the bottom right, seeing his side reach the Second Round once again.
Tranmere had the first chance of the game inside the opening two minutes when Ollie Duncan found space inside the Fleetwood area. However, his snapshot was too close to goalkeeper Conor Eastham who stood tall and blocked the effort from close range.
Soon after, Rovers came close again when Sam Taylor latched onto a ball over the top to get in behind the defence. Fortunately for Town, his shot couldn’t find the target.
At the other end, Fleetwood began to find their feet in the game and created their first chance of the game. After a neat piece of link-up play in the midfield, Zane Marsh looked to open the scoring when he tried his luck from range – but his shot was deflected away from goal by the onrushing Tranmere defender.
Donte Thompson-Prempeh was at the heart of the action down the left-hand side. He beat his man before finding George Morrison in the penalty area whose first-time effort tested goalkeeper James Dineley.
Dylan Dwyer looked to be in on goal for the visitors just before the half-hour mark, but under pressure from defender Oliver Leggett, he could only fire his shot into the gloves of Eastham.
Minutes later, Taylor gave Tranmere the lead. After being fed the ball 12-yards from goal, the forward took advantage of the opportunity and slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Just before halftime, Rovers came close to doubling their lead when Jamie Timlan’s cross picked out Taylor in the box but he wasn’t able to add to his tally and volleyed over the bar.
After the break, Taylor proved a threat for Tranmere once again. This time the forward unleashed an optimistic effort from range which stung the palms of Fleetwood stopped Eastham.
Likewise, the Cod Army came close when Morrison fired one towards goal from 20 yards. His low strike was too close to the goalkeeper.
In the 53rd, Town levelled the score when Thompson-Prempah rose highest to head home Morrison’s in-swinging cross.
With 20 minutes to go, Tranmere substitute Blake Bamgbose came close to giving his side the lead when he pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area and fired one towards goal – forcing a smart reaction save out the goalkeeper who dove to his right to parry clear.
Moments later, a fast counterattack saw the visitors regain their lead. Taylor’s driven ball to the back post found Bamgbose who after taking a touch, places the ball past Eastham.
With just seven minutes to go, Fleetwood equalised for the second time. After winning a free-kick on the corner of the box, Kyle King stepped up and curled the ball around the wall and into the top corner of the Tranmere goal.
King’s set pieces were causing trouble for the visitors and deep into added time, skipper William Johnson met his cross in the six-yard box but somehow Dineley made the save and kept the ball out of the back of the net, sending the game to extra time.
It looked like Tranmere were in behind in extra time, but Eastham was in the way again, sweeping up behind his defence and heading clear.
Tranmere looked to have taken the lead just before the break. Eastham pulled off a terrific save to deny Timlin, but could only parry clear as far as John-James King who fired the rebound into the roof of the net.
Before the referee could blow his whistle, the Cod Army won a free kick in added time and Kyle King stepped up looking for his second of the game. His effort this time was deflected but only as far as Harry Clarke who was quick to latch onto the loose ball and tap the ball into the gaping goal to equalise for his side.
Town came close towards the latter stages of the second period of extra time when a trialist’s cross found the run of Harry Clarke at the near post. His initial effort was blocked by the defender and the goalkeeper was in the way to smother his second attempt.
After 120 minutes both teams were evenly matched, so penalties would decide the result. Goals from Johnson, Trialist A, King, and Clarke saw Fleetwood come out 4-3 shoot-out victors.
Town XI: Eastham (GK), Jones (97’ Trialist C), Leggett, Kearns (71’ King), Johnson (C), Hand, Marsh (81’ Richmond), Hunter, Thompson- Prempeh (69’ Clarke), Morrison, Trialist A.
Unused subs: Trialist B (GK), Lord, Daha.
Tranmere XI: Dineley (GK), Capps, King, Jones (C), Cain, Haley, Dwyer, Fisher (94’ Edwards), Timlin, Duncan (64’ Bagmbose), Taylor.
Unused subs: Murray, Clark, Lyall.
Attendance: 308 (43 away)