Redhill’s U18s took on a very strong Lewes U18s in the FA Youth Cup last week under the floodlights at Kiln Brow.
The Reds went into the game well prepared after a few wins in pre season. For the 2019/20 season, a new approach was taken for the prestigious competition. It was deceived that rather than having just the mid week side feature in the competition, a combined effort from both last seasons Sunday league winners and fresh talent in the midweek team would be the best approach. There was a club approach of, let’s get the best possible side out on the pitch and give it our all! Charlie Bright Tom Cope, and Jack Gadd joined up and worked with both teams to form this new look squad.
A number of weeks of training took place where players showcased their abilities. Many toing and froing between players showed how competitive this squad would be. Warm up games against Leatherhead and Met Police showed the teams strengths and weakness, even after 2 wins! But soon after, the squad was set. Redhill’s first teams Mathew Mackenzie would join the U18s and add huge amounts to the team! The squad was as follows
On the night, Redhill looked well prepared and very sharp. They most certainly looked up for the battle! A large crowd was in attendance with huge support for Redhill !!!
In the opening moments, Redhill nearly took the lead. Conor Moody broke down the right hand side and delivered a great cross which striker Rhys Tucker was millimetres away from converting. A clear cut chance within 2 minutes, Lewes were not going to win this game easily!!! Soon after, a second chance for Redhill. Striker Fernando battled hard against the Lewes centre half and out muscled him to get a chance in at goal. His first effort saved but the ball fell to him once again, a delightful lofted lob bounced off the crossbar and into the keepers hands. Frustrating but still 0-0!
Lewes retained the ball well. Showing their class in wide areas. Many times they switched the play in search of a clear cut chance. And it wasn’t long before they got one. The right sided winger imitated a cross, cut it back to a incoming midfielder who buried it past the keeper.
Redhill bounced back, a massive throw in from Mathew Mackenzie was not dealt with by the Lewes defenders. Striker Rhys slotted it home neatly, his second goal in as many games. 1-1 and Redhill knew they were back in this! The crowd grew louder and an atmosphere grew. The cup tie was alive and kicking!
Lewes saw most of the possession for the remaining first half. But had a number of chances, mainly a free kick that rattled the crossbar! The teams went in at half time at 1-1.
The second half was as lively as the second. Lewes pushing on in search of a second and Redhill playing into vacant spaces left by Lewes. Redhill hit the post and the bar before Mathew Mackenzie’s snap shot in the box off a corner went fractionally over the bar. The second goal was coming and Lewes were on the ropes.
The Redhill defensive line was tested with many searching balls in behind them which lead to some fantastic recovery runs and ‘must win’ tackles. But sadly, one of these passes wasn’t dealt with and a trailing leg and pacey winger lead to a Lewes penalty which they put away. 10 mins to play and Redhill were regrettably and some could argue, undeservedly 2-1 down. Lewes kept the ball for the remaining minutes and Redhill couldn’t find that one chance to have a go again at the Lewes keeper. The game ended with a win for Lewes but some real heartache for the Redhill side!
Tom Cope said:
Lewes were not only league winners in Sussex last year, but league cup and county cup winners too! A huge club with an amazing talent pool and ‘pull’ from the county. They are undeniably a superb team. But on the night, Redhill more than matched them! There were some who could say that a heavy score line could be on the cards as you can never really judge Sunday football and midweek footballs difference in quality in their highest respective leagues. Yet we proved there is very little.
We showed that a new approach to selecting a squad for the competition worked extremely well. That Redhill as a club can now attract players of a high level for both midweek and Sunday football and all of these young lads be in with a chance of playing in a competition that traditionally, a select few could play in.
The whole team, including those who didn’t make it onto the pitch made everyone proud and they made the club proud. They had the toughest team to face and they nearly came away with a result. The game was a fantastic game to watch, end to end and a great atmosphere. It was a proper cup tie. I’m gutted they didn’t get something out of the game but the team can be more than pleased with their performances!