Young Hatters fightback to earn third round place
Gateshead Under-18s 1
Town Under-18s 2
Smith 45, McKenzie-Lowe 86
Jemale McKenzie-Lowe hit the winning goal four minutes from time to book the Under-18s’ passage to the third round of the FA Youth Cup with a professional victory at Gateshead.
The Hatters trailed to the Tynesiders but hit back with a stunning Charlie Smith free-kick and McKenzie-Lowe’s late winner to secure a third round trip to Championship Huddersfield Town in three weeks' time.
Paul Driver’s youngsters dominated the first half without creating any clear cut chances but fell behind on 28 minutes when Gateshead’s David Carson cut inside and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Ben Barnes.
The Town came close to equalising almost immediately when Tinashe Chabata’s lob dropped wide of the post after the Gateshead keeper flapped at a corner.
However, the Hatters were level on the stroke of half-time. Arel Amu was fouled 25 yards from goal and Smith curled a stunning free-kick home to send the two sides in level at the break.
Buoyed by that goal the Town dominated the first 15 minutes of the second period, but failed to test the Tynesider’s goalkeeper.
The Town upped the ante in search of a winner and the home goalkeeper made a fantastic save to deny Zane Banton’s shot on the turn. Smith saw a free-kick strike the post before McKenzie-Lowe and Banton also saw shots saves.
However, with extra-time looming the Hatters won it in the 86th minute. Gateshead failed to deal with a cross and McKenzie-Lowe punished slack marking to find the corner of the net.
With their noses in front the Town almost added a late third goal but McKenzie-Lowe inadvertently blocked a goal-bound shot from Daril Ngwala.
But, after four minutes of added time, the Town saw out a deserved victory to boss Driver’s delight.
“It took us a little time to get going but that was to be expected following a six-hour trip,” he said.
“But we had prepared well. On the way up we grateful to Sheffield Wednesday who allowed us to utilise their facilities for a training session.
“We had more of the ball in the first 45 minutes and there was nothing Ben could do with their goal but we responded well and Charlie scored a great free-kick to bring us level. It was an important goal and it came at a great time.
“We took that into the second half and had a number of decent chances before Jemale came up with the winner.
“There’s no denying it was a helluva long trip, but boys were excellent.
“Huddersfield will be a big test but the players have now experienced two away long away games and we’ll go there with nothing to fear.
“While it’s great to get through the focus for the boys now is two important league games against Peterborough and Gillingham.
“After any cup win you always have to put it to one side because we need to get wins in the league. That’s something we’ll be drilling into the lads later this week.”
Town: Barnes, Trotman, Hawkes, Chabata, Tamplin, Rees, Smith, Amu, Galliford (sub Ngwala 60), Banton, McKenzie-Lowe.
Subs not used: King, Perry, Tayali, Allman.