Merseyside under-18s cruise to cup victory over West Yorkshire

IN the under-18 national county cup, a hat-trick of penalties from future England Schools’ international striker Jack Owen helped Merseyside to a 6-1 win over an extremely physical West Yorkshire outfit.

Merseyside may currently boast of having two members of the under-18 international squad, and it was the other, Rob Gilroy, who set them en route to victory after less than a minute of play in the match at Liverpool Soccer Centre.

The midfielder, who attends Sacred Heart High School in Crosby, provided a classy side-foot finish to Joe Peacock’s pinpoint cross.

The visitors probably were not as poor a side as the scoreline suggests, but their indiscipline cost them any possibility of victory.

They must have conceded around 30 free-kicks, as well as three penalties and were extremely fortunate to finish the game with 11 players on the field.

The first spot-kick came just after the half-hour when Owen, not for the first or last time, was the victim of a reckless challenge.

The Rainford High School student got up off the floor to drive home in off the post.

Another Owen penalty followed five minutes into the second-half, and when Chad Dennis drove in number four, from the edge of the area, the cup-tie was pretty much over as a contest.

To their credit the Yorkshire lads never gave up and even pulled a goal back from a rebound, after Merseyside keeper Mike Dixon, had pulled off a good one-handed stop.

Normal service was resumed when, from yet another free-kick, Steve Hoy superbly curled in number five, from 30 yards out.

The sixth goal arrived courtesy of a third penalty – after Gilroy was knocked over – from Owen.

The spot-kick king, after flashing the keeper a smile, made no mistake from 12 yards out.

Team manager Garth Williams was extremely diplomatic and moderate in his post-match comments.

He said: “We played well against a very physical side. We hope to achieve a similar level of performance in the next round.”

In the quarter-final Merseyside will visit Middlesex.

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