IPSWICH Town Under-18s coach Callum Tongue hailed his side’s ‘personality and character’ after reaching the last eight of this season’s Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup.
The Town youngsters knocked out AFC Sudbury 5-3 in a penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw in their second-round tie at AFC Sudbury on Tuesday night.
Town’s Oli Davis, Steven Turner, Chucks Uzor, Nick Nkansa-Dwamena and Rio Morgan all confidently dispatched their spot kicks past AFC Sudbury keeper James Bradbrook in the shoot-out.
Henry Gray, who had made some good stops during the 90 minutes, dived to his left to save Joe Neal’s first effort for the home team, and although Romario Dunne, Michael Bareck and Reuben Swann were all successful, it meant Ipswich went through.
Ipswich had the better chances in the opening period, but AFC Sudbury came on stronger in the second half, especially when Neal and Swann came off the bench for the last 20 minutes.
Ipswich Town U18 coach Tongue, whose side will now be away to Ipswich Wanderers in the quarter-finals on or before October 25th, was pleased with the way his players handled the occasion.
He said: “That is something that Academy football doesn’t always give you – those moments where there is something at the end of it and at the club we really value development over winning, but it is really good for the lads to experience these nights as well as a small sprinkling in their programme of winning and wanting to win and progress in the cup and do well.
“If you do well it gives you another opportunity to do nights like this and build a reputation in the local area which is really important.
“It’s a really pleasing night to show both sides, to show our style and the way we want to play that comes from a brilliant first team set-up and U21s set-up, but also to show that other side of the game that probably gets you a career in the game is that horrible side to want to keep a clean sheet and the whole team played a big part in that but especially our goalkeeper, who stood up to a big challenge tonight and was supported by a brilliant back-four performance.”
AFC Sudbury skipper Romario Dunne (yellow shirt) challenges for the ball. Main photograph: Ipswich Town U18s goalkeeper Henry Gray saves at close range from AFC Sudbury's Ola Bello (yellow shirt) at the MEL Group Stadium. Photographs: Steve Screech
Tongue revealed that he had no shortage of players putting their hand up to take a penalty in the shoot-out.
He said: “The pleasing thing as a coach is that when I am stood in that huddle at the end and said ‘who wants one?’ I have got more than five, I have got ten here who want one, then who wants first and we’re having an argument who wants first and I think that shows their personality and the character in a moment like this.”
Disappointed AFC Sudbury manager Marc Abbott said: “We obviously upped the ante in the second-half.
“It was more like us in terms of creating chances, creating moments to score, but you have got to give them credit in terms of the way they defended and the way the keeper kept the ball out of the net.”
“Overall it is a disappointed dressing room. There are some players in there that probably didn’t take their opportunity that came their way today. I think we have shown in the last 20-25 when we brought Joe and Reuben on the game lifted in quality and lifted in pace and I thought they could be the match-winners, but it wasn’t to be.”
The one remaining second-round tie between Long Melford and Needham Market will now be played on Wednesday, October 11th, kick-off 7.45pm. The winners will be at home to Stowmarket Town in the last eight.