Youth Alliance Cup
Team: Deane, Harriman, Sanderson, Doughty, Parmenter, Olley, Bewick, Gibbons, Sharif, Francis, Andrade.
This Cup tie was switched to Harlington because the pitch at Millwall’s training ground was deemed unplayable, so the R’s lined up in their away strip. Taylor Parmenter came in for Stephen O’Donnell at centre back and Adam Francis started up-front ahead of Marcel Henry-Francis and the game kicked off earlier than usual at 10.33am.
Some good work down the right flank resulted in Michael Harriman winning a corner, but it was Millwall who almost took the lead after they were awarded a free kick in a midfield position. The ball was played to a team mate who’s shot curled away, but only just past Gareth Deane’s post. The Lions took the lead after around 15 minutes when the ball came in from the right and although the first Millwall player failed to connect, another one was on hand to follow up successfully. Mo Sharif took off down the right wing, then cut in and his shot was well blocked by the Lions defender. The visitors were having the best of the half and could of doubled their lead following a good move which had started in their own penalty box and Gareth Deane had to make an outstanding save from close range. Half-time: 0-1.
Rangers got off to a good start and within 10 minutes or so, Michael Doughty equalised with a superb strike when he curled the ball into the corner of the net from just outside the box. The R’s were now the dominant force and it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before further goals followed. A Michael Doughty volley was saved by the keeper. Tony Sanderson was pushing up more along the left flank and Millwall had to clear another effort off the line. Over on the other flank, Doughty progressed along the bye-line and put a lovely ball in for the advancing Sharif, but he lifted it over the bar. There was much debate amongst us when a Sam Bewick corner was headed goal- bound, but somehow their keeper scooped the ball possibly from just over the line ? To be fair, it was hard to be certain, but the debate continued for some time.
The gaps were opening up and there was only one side in the game, but a rare Millwall attack saw some brave goal keeping from Gareth Deane when he dived at the opponents feet to stop the danger. The R’s had a very good shout for a penalty when Mo Sharif was hauled down in the box. Then Millwall had a good opportunity to take the lead again and at the other end, Sam Bewick fired just past the post. Michael Doughty stepped up after a handball virtually on the 18-yard line. His free kick resulted in another big shout for handball, but this time it wasn’t given. Rangers had a succession of corners, each taken by Michael Doughty, which despite the pressure their defence was under, they managed to negotiate the danger.
There was a ridiculous yellow card for Mo Sharif and Marcel Henry-Francis replaced Adam Francis up-front. In the closing stages, we witnessed some superb play by Mo Sharif when he brought the ball out from from a defensive position and then set up an R’s counter attack. Sam Bewick shot over the bar and when the referee blew his whistle we knew that there would be no extra time and another Cup match would be decided by penalties.
Rangers got off to a good start when Michael Doughty belted in the first penalty: 1-0
The first Millwall spot kick was placed to Gareth Deane’s right: 1-1
Next up for the R’s was Sam Bewick and he kept our advantage: 2-1
The Lions player then placed his penalty to the left of Gareth Deane: 2-2
Bruno Andrade had no trouble hitting the roof of the net: 3-2
The next one was well placed: 3-3
Mo Sharif stepped up and kept our noses in front: 4-3
The next Millwall penalty found the right-hand corner: 4-4
Michael Harriman put his away to the keeper’s left: 5-4
The Lions fifth penalty was also directed into the right-hand corner: 5-5
Marcel Henry-Francis scored our sixth with a well taken spot kick: 6-5
The next one from the opposition clipped the inside of the post before going in: 6-6
Unfortunately Tony Sanderson’s penalty was saved by the keeper: 6-6
The thirteenth penalty became the match winner: 6-7
Before I headed off, I looked over and there was Gareth Deane still lying on the ground distraught. The previous match must of taken a lot out of the players, but they put on a superb performance, particularly in the 2nd half and it was a cruel blow to exit another Cup competition on penalties so soon, twice in four days in fact. I have to say that Taylor Parmenter did very well coming in at centre back, for I think, his first start of the season ? The other members of the Saturday Morning Crew were: Alan Barnes, Rob Bennett, Clive Kingham, Roger Stokes, Froods, Sean plus Pat and Tom Harrison.