A great battling performance by the u12s today saw us take Hitchin Youth, currently sitting second in the top division of the Royston Crow league, to extra time and penalties before ultimately going out on the second sudden death penalty in the last 16 of the Herts County Cup.

We went into the game as underdogs, with Hitchin having already despatched WFL Red division opposition in the last round of the cup, but within 10 minutes of the start of the game it was clear that we were going to battle for this all the way to the end.

It was very much a game of two halves, not in the traditional sense, but in the sense that one half of the pitch was near quagmire like conditions, making it very difficult to both attack and defend, with the other being really quite playable.

The first half was a tight affair and whilst Hitchin possibly edged the possession and the chances, it was clear at half-time, with the score still at 0-0, that we had everything to play for.

In the second half we started to up our work rate even more than the first and attacking into the better half of the pitch started to threaten Hitchin once or twice, the most notable effort being when Alex made a great break catching the keeper in no-man’s land but only being able to find the post with his shot.

That said, defending in the mud as the pitch deteriorated proved very difficult and it was ultimately Hitchin that went 1 – 0 up with 15 minutes to go when we were unable to clear the ball out of the mud.

We immediately moved to a 3-3-2 formation which paid dividends within 5 or so minutes as Dillan latched onto a pass from Alex to score under heavy pressure from the keeper.

Dillan came to the rescue just a minute or two later as he put in a great sliding tackle at the other end of the pitch to deny Hitchin a clear goal scoring opportunity.

With regulation time finishing with the score at 1 – 1, we went into a period of extra time which we most definitely had the best of and within the first minute or two Sammy had worked himself room to create a one on one with the keeper which unfortunately he put just wide of the post.

In the dying moments of the game it was Edgware on the offensive but ultimately the end of extra time came around a little too soon.

Penalties in never a nice way to finish any game, albeit with Matt pulling off two tremendous saves against Hitchin’s first two penalties, we had every right to think this was going to be our day. Unfortunately, what with one or two of the boys asking not to be considered for penalties and after having taken 7 penalties, but with us not even properly testing the keeper on the 4 that we missed, Hitchin went through 4-3 on penalties.

Whilst very disappointing, it was a great performance and a thoroughly enjoyable game to watch.

Every one of the boys had a great game today, and whilst that would normally make picking a man-of-the-match very difficult indeed, it was quite easy to single out Barsa  today in a match where conditions suited him down to a tee and his sheer determination made life incredibly uncomfortable for a team that have scored a hell of a lot of goals this season.

Let’s hope for a few more battling performances like this to come.