Leeds United U18s secured their place in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Sheffield United U18s at Bramall Lane on Thursday night. The game ended 1-1 after extra time, with both teams scoring in the first half. Leeds keeper Harry Christy was the hero of the night, saving two penalties in the shootout to send his team through.
A tight and tense affair
The game started with a high tempo, as both teams looked to impose themselves on the game. Leeds had the first chance of the night, when Max Dean headed over from a corner in the fifth minute. Sheffield responded with a shot from Zak Brunt that went wide of the post. The hosts then took the lead in the 17th minute, when Andre Brooks pounced on a loose ball in the box and fired a low shot past Christy. Leeds did not let their heads drop, and equalised in the 28th minute, when Joe Snowdon curled a superb free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards out. The rest of the half was evenly contested, with both teams creating chances but failing to convert them.
The second half was more cagey, as both teams tightened up their defence and tried to avoid mistakes. Leeds had a couple of opportunities to take the lead, but Dean and Snowdon were denied by Sheffield keeper Marcus Dewhurst. Sheffield also had a chance to win the game in the 90th minute, when Brunt’s free-kick was tipped over by Christy. The game went into extra time, with neither team able to break the deadlock. Leeds had the best chance of the extra period, when Dean’s header hit the post in the 112th minute. The game then went to penalties, with both teams having to cope with the pressure and the cold weather.
Christy the hero in the shootout
The penalty shootout was a nerve-wracking affair, with both teams missing their first spot-kicks. Leeds’ Dean and Sheffield’s Brooks both saw their efforts saved by the keepers. Leeds then took the lead, when Snowdon scored and Christy saved from Brunt. Leeds missed their next penalty, when Dewhurst saved from Charlie Allen. Sheffield then levelled the score, when Hassan Ayari scored and Christy saved from Leo Gaxha. Leeds regained the lead, when Sean McGurk scored and Christy saved from Harry Boyes. Leeds then sealed the win, when Ethan Kachosa scored and Dewhurst saved from Will Osula. Leeds celebrated their victory, while Sheffield were left heartbroken.
Leeds United U18s make history
Leeds United U18s have made history by reaching the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2003. They have also beaten Sheffield United U18s for the first time in the competition, after losing to them in the previous two meetings. Leeds will now face either Everton or Chelsea in the next round, with the date and venue to be confirmed. Leeds coach Mark Jackson praised his team for their performance and character, and said they deserved to go through. He also thanked the fans who travelled to Bramall Lane to support the team, and said they made a difference.
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