Stevenage Under 18s confirmed their spot in the FA Youth Cup Third Round with a 3-1 dispatching of Peterborough United.
A Drilon Krasniqi opener on the brink of half-time was cancelled out by Posh’s Ruzvidzo in added time of the ninety, before it took goals from Jack Moriarty and Liam Smyth to seal the deal in extra-time.
Four changes were made to the side who were victorious over Brentwood Town in Round One, with George Edgeworth, Morgan Mahoney, Ben Siggers and Drilon Krasniqi all come into the starting XI in place of Alex Aitken, Jack Wilson, Finlay Johnson and Luis Fernandez.
It was a confident start to the game from the young Stevenage side, keeping most of the possession and playing the ball around the pitch neatly. Liam Smyth almost got the hosts off to a perfect start with a shot on the edge of the area, after a wicked deflection made the ball look destined for the net, but for a good stop from Peterborough’s Josh Allen.
Morgan Mahoney was causing several problems down the right flank, playing the overlap and making late runs past the likes of Arai and Krasniqi. Mahoney’s cross after 15 minutes was whipped onto the head of Jack Moriarty inside the six-yard box, though the midfielder could not get over the ball in time and headed over.
Jack Smith, captaining the side, was running the show from the centre of the park as ever. His quick feet in the Peterborough half earned a free-kick on the half hour mark of which he took, however was comfortable enough for the opposing stopper.
Down the other end, Peterborough were threatening with their pace on the attack. Number nine Brad Rolt thought he had given the visitors the lead a few minutes before the break, although was judged to have stepped offside in the linesman’s opinion.
Come the 44th minute, and Stevenage were ahead. Krasniqi and Smyth found themselves running at goal in a two-on-one situation, before Krasniqi squared it to Smyth. Stevenage’s number nine’s shot was blocked by the goalkeeper, only to be parried into the path of chance creator. Krasniqi made no mistake and put Stevenage one up at half-time.
As the second half started, Peterborough started to show a bit more of what they were about, looking to get an early equaliser.
It was Stevenage though who had the first real chance of the second period. A pin point Jack Moriarty corner found the head of defender Sam Dreyer, who would have scored if he had aimed the ball to either side of the goalkeeper, much to Allen’s fortune.
When called upon, Stevenage were able to rely on George Edgeworth between the sticks. Brad Rolt had managed to bundle his way into a goalscoring opportunity inside the Stevenage box, but for Edgeworth to stand tall and keep the ball out.
As the game progressed, Stevenage had multiple chances to double their lead. A Krasniqi effort and a long range Ben Siggers effort were both just inches away from that all important second.
With fifteen minutes left to play, Jack Smith stood over a free-kick from 25 yards which we all know he can be dangerous from. The midfielder’s effort looked as if it had crept into the top righthand corner, to be disappointed at the ball bouncing back out from the side netting. Close, but not close enough.
As the two sides entered the final ten minutes, Peterborough continued to pile the pressure on, and found their goal with seconds remaining. After a goalmouth scramble, the ball fell kindly to Shawn Ruzvido inside the box, who slid home to the relief of their dugout. Extra-time to be played.
Extra-time played out much like the ninety, but with Peterborough legs tiring as the Stevenage players looked reenergised.
After being named on the bench of the First Team on Tuesday night, it was to no surprise that Mackye Townsend-West was a standout figure in the Stevenage back four for the entirety of the tie. A last ditch tackle inside the area denied Taylor Horne putting a dangerous ball across goal, as he looked determined not to concede for the remainder of this game.
Much like the first half, Stevenage were ahead again on the brink of the break. Substitute Obi Onyeagwara beat his man excellently down the right flank before finding Jack Moriarty inside the box, who took a touch before coolly sliding the ball into the goal’s bottom corner.
Stevenage were ahead again as the teams swapped ends for the final fifteen.
Peterborough were now throwing everything at this game. George Edgeworth was again Stevenage’s saviour, racing off his line rapidly to sweep the ball away from the rampaging Brad Rolt who was in on goal.
Bobby Copping, Peterborough’s towering centre-half, was now playing in the centre forward role. With five minutes left to play, the defender had a golden chance to level it with a one-on-one, but dragged his shot past the far post.
It would not be a Stevenage Under 18s game without a Liam Smyth goal. Into the last minute of the game, Onyeagwara was again provider who had broken away on the counter attack, sliding the ball across to Smyth who finished classily to bag his customary goal.
A tremendous effort from the young Stevenage side made mostly from sixteen year olds, progress into the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup to face Premier League Aston Villa at The Lamex in coming weeks.