Ossett United U18s v Sunderland
It felt a bit like déjà vu. Back in March I drove up to Kendal to see my mate, watch Ossett United’s away game there, then spend a weekend reminiscing in the town’s pubs. The game was called off whilst en route due to Covid symptoms in the Kendal camp and we made a snap decision to find another game. If Lancaster City v Witton Albion felt like last chance saloon, the Kendal saloons that Saturday night would also be the last for a few months.
Fast forward to early November and another last game for a while before another lockdown. A Tuesday night under the Ingfield lights promised a mouth-watering tie for the swashbuckling Ossett United U18s, welcoming none other than Sunderland AFC in the first round proper of the FA Youth Cup. It had been a great achievement to get this far for the Ossett lads, the qualifying rounds culminating in an exciting penalty shootout win at Spennymoor Town. Sunderland would be a different challenge altogether, a top academy from a professional club with a great and proud history.
Spoff spotted me at the snack bar pre-game and asked me to write this match report, so I plonked myself in the seats behind the goal during warm-up to digest my last Ingfield chips for a while along with the team sheet. The achievement of the Ossett United U18 side became even more apparent looking at the dates of birth, with many boys not yet 17. “Young and fearless,” were Spoff’s words.
The game began with an open first ten minutes, both sides attacking but Sunderland looking most threatening. A couple of great defensive tackles by Chitu Hani-Okoroafor kept the Black Cats at bay, with Ossett attempts down the bonfire end evening things up.
Unlucky for the young Sheepicorns Luke Chapman coolly slotted home the first Sunderland goal on 13 minutes, the ball coming free after a melee in our box. A goal behind early on, there were chances at both ends, notably Nico Georgiou-Nicola just clearing the crossbar after good work from Josh Haigh down the left.
On 21 minutes Ossett levelled, a great move down the right this time, Luke McKernan delivering a composed right foot shot to the Sunderland keeper’s left. Get in! Frantically note-taking, in the excitement I tapped ‘jeeper’s’ instead of ‘keeper’s’ into my phone. Jeepers! 1-1, game on!
It wasn’t to be. Just two minutes later a great ball into the box was volleyed right footed beyond Ossett keeper Jack Baker by Sunderland’s impressive midfielder Dan Jones. The Mackems had regained the lead in clinical fashion.
The game remained open, Ossett forcing a first corner on 33 minutes, then Sunderland’s Jones squandering a chance for his second, shooting straight at Baker. The next Sunderland attack was a virtuoso one, Jay Turner-Cooke dribbling the ball into the Ossett box, placing a perfect shot into the corner.
A great double save from Baker in the Ossett goal closed the half and, whilst it seemed harsh to go in two behind at half-time, Sunderland had definitely edged it.
I won’t dwell too much on the second half. Sunderland showed why they are a highly-rated academy of a professional club, dominating from midfield, creating and finishing many chances. On 55 minutes their fourth goal was unfortunate for Ossett, a corner deflecting in off a Blues defender. Five minutes later a fifth goal followed, a right foot shot from the left edge of the Ossett box superbly placed to the keeper’s left. The scorer of this good goal is still a mystery to me, the numbers on the Black Cats’ backs camouflaged by their famous red and white stripes.
Ossett continued to try positive things, shots from distance, but Jack Baker was still busy between the sticks, saving a Turner-Cooke effort with his legs. But alas a sixth goal did arrive on 73 minutes, Turner-Cooke reaching the by-line, feeding Luke Chapman. 1-6.
Turner-Cooke was at it again three minutes later, despatching a 7th from the right side of the box, before Luke Chapman rounded off his hat-trick on 82 minutes. There was still time for United to rattle the Sunderland crossbar from distance, nearly going out with a far bigger bang than the pyro-kids behind the goal could muster. But it wasn’t to be our night. Good luck to the classy young Sunderland side. And to our lads? It was a great achievement for little Ossett to reach the first round proper. You’ve done the club proud. Let’s hope we are back at Ingfield soon.