Russell Milton's young Robins were knocked out of the Youth Alliance Cup in a penalty shoot-out at the weekend.
The Young Robins dropped out of the Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday having reached the semi-final for the first time in the club’s history.
Having not played a game for the best part of two months, the Youth Team travelled down to Portsmouth on the first team coach, prepared and were looking forward to playing a game. On a tough pitch that cut up quickly, the Young Robins started brightly with a deflected shot from James Bowen.
Following an exchange of tackles, Spencer Hamilton noticeably made his mark on one Pompey player and Cheltenham again had a chance; this time a corner from Danny Reynolds which was met by James Bowen but his header was saved.
The rest of the first half was scrappy as the small pitch started to cut up with chances few and far between. It took until the 40th minute for Pompey’s first chance in which a great strike from their number 8 hit the back of Harvey Rivers' net who had been untested. The first half ended 1 – 0 to Portsmouth.
With Nathan Hughes from the CTFC Development Squad starting the second half, the Young Robins started to take control of the match, imposing some possession. Again with chances few and far between, Cheltenham were the better side coming into the final quarter of the game with Jamal Lawrence now on the pitch. Hughes had a great chance to equalise following some great build up play, but his shot was well saved by the Portsmouth goalkeeper.
The pressure finally told on the Pompey backline when in the 85th minute a free kick was conceded on the edge of their box. Danny Reynolds stepped up and dispatched a well worked free kick into the top left hand corner of the net to tie the scores at 1–1 taking the semi-final to penalties.
Having beaten Bristol Rovers on penalties in the previous round, the Youth Team stepped up to the challenge confidently. Despite Reynolds, Daly and Bowen converting their penalties, a good save from one of the Pompey penalties by Harvey Rivers unfortunately wasn’t enough to see the Young Robins through to the final as Portsmouth came through as winners, 4 – 3.
Youth Team Manager and Head of Coaching Russell Milton gave his reaction to the game following his team's achievement of getting the furthest in the competition in the club’s history.
“The players can be really proud”, he said.
“Their efforts to get this far in the competition is credit to their hard work and their attitude makes them a credit to the club. To lose on penalties is always hard but often it is luck of the draw and this is a learning curve for the players. Portsmouth were a good side but I think we played better than them and the players showed what they can do on the ball. Each and every one of them can keep their heads up high having performed well against a good side on a difficult, sticky pitch”.
Now coming into the closing games of the season, the Youth Team stand a real chance of winning the league.
“Their challenge is to now go on and win the league”, he added.
“It is in their hands as we only have the teams around us to play in the league so if we beat them then we should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season”.
To see how the Youth Team progress over the coming weeks, make sure you follow them on twitter: @ctfcyofficial.