FC Oswestry Town Under-21s proved spot-on at the New Bucks Head ground in Telford when they beat AFC Bridgnorth on penalties in the final to lift the Shropshire Mercian League under-21 Cup.
The Oswestry side, managed by Rich Adams and Stuart Paterson started the game brightly and went ahead after 10 minutes when Bridgnorth failed to clear a dangerous attack. Midfielder Jonny Mitchell pounced and struck the ball past helpless Bridgnorth goalkeeper Stephen Chettor.
However, the lead was short-lived. FC Oswestry sat back on their one-goal advantage and came under pressure from the newly crowned league champions, who grabbed an equaliser in the 28th minute.
George Minshal came off the FC Oswestry bench just before half-time and was given the task of leading the line. Minshal changed the game and gave the Town another dimension when they attacked.
His hard work and relentless closing down of the Bridgnorth defence paid off when Oswestry were awarded a penalty when Ed Rogers was brought down inside the area. Tristan Lloyd stepped up and cooly converted from the spot.
The team talk at the break worked well, as a resurgent FC Oswestry scored two goals in 20 minutes.
It was that man Minshal who scored FC Oswestry’s third, and the game seemed to be dead and buried in the 72nd minute when Jamie Hands’ neat footwork and clinical strike put FC Oswestry 4-1 up.
Town had three golden opportunities to extend their lead even further. Aaron Davies and Scott Vallely missed one-on-one chances with Chettor, and Hands came even closer by hitting the post from close range.
Bridgnorth made the most of the ‘roll on, roll off’ substitution rule with several experienced first and reserve team players being brought on to the field with 20 minutes remaining. Two set pieces and another cross into the FC Oswestry Town box gave Bridgnorth three goals in quick succession, levelling the game at 4-4.
The Town were hanging on at the end and did well to see the game out until the final whistle, keeping the scores tied. The back four of Aaron Davies, Luke Mackenzie, Jordan Evans and Harry Evans were compact and worked well as a unit under severe pressure. Nathan Martin played an important role defensively, coming off the Town bench late on.
Owing to a problem with AFC Telford's floodlights the game went straight to penalties. The momentum was strongly in the hands of the Bridgnorth team by this point, but FC Oswestry showed great character by winning the penalty shoot-out 4-3. Goalkeeper Gareth Jones saved Bridgnorth’s third and fourth penalties in spectacular fashion.
Goalscorers for the Park Hall-based team in the shoot-out were Jamie Hands, George Minshal and Callum Patterson, and the winning penalty was scored by Scott Valleley.
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