Stevenage win 4-2 at Ware (AET)
Two extra-time goals from Claudio Ofosu saw Stevenage advance to the second round of the FA Youth Cup after a hard fought 4-2 win at Ware.
Twice Boro’s youngsters took the lead in this game but twice they were pegged back, with Ware showing why they had navigated three qualifying rounds to get to this stage of the competition.
Stevenage dominated possession in the game and when captain Zak Guerfi opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute, it looked like it could be a comfortable evening for Boro.
Andronicos Georgiou twice went close to doubling the lead, but Ware grew in confidence as the half progressed and after seeing a close-range header fly over and a shot from distance bounce just wide – both on the counter-attack - they equalised on 43 minutes. Breaking at pace, Sam Ruff ran at the Boro defence and saw his low effort from the edge of the area squeeze inside the near post.
After the break David Etheridge tested the Ware ‘keeper with a shot inside the area on 52 minutes, but Boro had to be wary at the other end and nearly fell behind to a spectacular overhead kick on the hour which bounced just wide.
Liam Brady glanced a 69th minute header wide but three minutes later the midfielder turned provider from a corner, putting in a cross from the left which Charley O’Keefe finished neatly at the near post for 2-1.
Despite restoring their lead, Stevenage were having to be wary of more Ware attacks and the hosts equalised for a second time on 78 minutes. Boro’s defence managed to clear another home attack, but only as far as the edge of the area where Charles Kutin drilled home off the bar for 2-2.
With the game level after 90 minutes, it was into extra-time and Georgiou had the best chance in the first 15 minutes but fired over from the edge of the area. Cramp was settling in for both teams and several stoppages in play meant it looked like a penalty shoot-out was going to be the only way to separate the teams.
Ben Wilmot’s looping header was superbly turned over the bar by the Ware ‘keeper as full-time approached, before sub Claudio Ofosu struck twice to win the game for Stevenage in dramatic style.
His first was a far-post header as Boro swung a ball into the box. His second him beat the ‘keeper on the half-way line after Ware had thrown everyone up for a corner, before running the ball into the back of the net to ensure Stevenage’s place in the second round of the FA Youth Cup.
Stevenage: Kyriatzis, Croud (Iontton 55), Wilmot, Omar, O’Keefe, Guerfi (Taylor 101), Georgiou, Brady, Cregan, McKee, Etheridge (Ofosu 55)
Subs not used: Harness, Morrell