Chester FC 3 - Irlam FC 5
By J Main
The Magic of the FA Youth Cup
IRLAM FC U18’S booked their place in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup on Thursday evening in dramatic style, coming back from 3-1 down at one point to power home to a 5-3 victory against Chester FC at the Swansway Stadium.
Goals from Irlam’s Isaac Illidge and CONNOR MARTIN were added to by a spectacular three penalty haul, all converted by a cool headed JOHN MAIN to break the hearts of the Chester supporters who turned up in their numbers to support their team on the night.
Irlam were to suffer at the hands of the home side initially, giving two soft goals away as Chester found themselves two goals to the good without really creating solid opportunities to score.
A cross in from the left from the home side on 25 minutes seemed to pose no danger for Irlam, but a slight deflection on the way into the area was enough to wrong foot Irlam keeper Aldred, the ball carrying onto a well positioned Scarisbrick who headed in the simplest of chances to take the lead for Chester.
Worse was to follow five minutes later, and when Irlam failed to clear their lines around their penalty area Chester forward Kieran Evans was on hand to take a touch before smashing the ball past a stranded Aldred as Chester made it 2-0, giving Irlam a mountain to climb with just half an hour gone in the game.
With half time approaching Irlam got back into the tie, and when Irlam’s ZAR JORDAN got goal side of his defender in the Chester penalty area, his marker brought the no7 down for the award of a penalty, coolly converted by JOHN MAIN to make it 2-1.
Thoughts of regrouping at half time with the scoreline at 2-1 were dealt a blow in the dying seconds again as Irlam again paid dearly for not clearing the ball out of their area, as the ball seemed to bounce around the Irlam penalty area before eventually falling to Chester’s Jamie Hayes, who bundled the ball over the line to increase the Irlam players frustration as they went in at the break 3-1 down.
With Irlam emerging back onto the pitch for the 2nd half, the half time team talk would prove to be decisive as the Silver St side burst into action straight from the restart.
Chester Centre Half Jarrod Christopher made a crucial mistake in thinking he could play the ball past CONNOR MARTIN around his own penalty area, the Irlam no10 pouncing on the error to charge the ball down and fire past the Chester keeper to make it 3-2 and breath life back into the tie.
Chester responded with a superb strike by Evans, forcing an excellent save out of Aldred in the Irlam goal as the game started to heat up.
As the game ebbed and flowed, Irlam just seemed to have the edge, taking over from the early pressure the home side provided in the fixture, and when ZAR JORDAN again lost his marker in the Chester Penalty area, Chester’s Tom Waring paid the price for bringing the Irlam forward down, the young defender sent off as Irlam were awarded a 2nd penalty, again dispatched by Main to draw the scores level at 3-3.
With Chester now suffering with a man less, Irlam seemed to go for the driven ball option over the top of a tiring Chester defence, who had to cope with the real pace of Jordan, Main and Martin combined, and when one such delivery picked out Jordan again, the no7 was brought crashing to the ground in the penalty area for the third time for the award of third penalty. This time it was Chester’s Jones that saw red for the foul, leaving Chester with just nine men on the pitch as the game entered its final minutes. Main stepped up again, and the Irlam no9 slotted his third of the night before taking his shirt of and doing a lap of the pitch with his teammates before receiving the obligatory caution for removing his top.
With Chester resigned to defeat on such a dramatic night, it was left to Isaac Illidge to put the tie beyond doubt, the Irlam midfielder picked out by Irlam full back SAM BOLTON’s cross to power his header back across the Chester keeper and into the top corner to make it 5-3. The restart of play was a formality as the final whistle blew, sending Irlam into a third round meeting with AFC Fylde.