Forest Green Rovers U18s were beaten 2 – 1 after extra-time by Swindon Town U18s in the first round of the FA Youth Cup at the New Lawn.
Rovers had progressed through 4 qualifying rounds and there was little difference in football terms between Swindon Town and the Hartpury College students representing Rovers.
Town started quickly with Whitehead out-pacing Ross Langworthy on the wing and crossing well.
Rovers fought back with captain Tom Kay firmly organising his troops, fellow centre-half Jamie Dunn passing well out of defence and Fred Humphries combative in mid-field. Town battled for control and following a series of niggling fouls, Harry Grant received a caution.
His team-mate Abdul Said steadied and impressively held firm. Rovers attacked down the flanks through Pitt and Stevens, with Town keeper Bedwell punching clear at full stretch to keep honours even at half-time. In the 2nd half Swindon enjoyed greater possession, but Rovers created the better opportunities with Jack Wood testing Town’s defensive line. The assistant referee’s flag narrowly denying runners from mid-field as Rovers pressed.
On 78 mins Town had a headed effort ruled out for off-side. On 85 mins Humphries was judged to have impeded Bedwell before volleying the ball in the net. With scores level on 90 mins, the large crowd only had to wait 5 minutes into extra-time for goals for either side. First, on 92mins Town’s sub Waldron scored after a scramble, then on 95 mins, Stevens equalised for Rovers with a fierce cross-shot. Neither side deserved to loose, but with penalties looking likely a brief loss of concentration at the near post allowed Broomfield to score the winner for Swindon Town on 112 minutes.
Rovers pressed for an equaliser with Dunn, now marauding forward in the Andy Carroll role, just clearing the bar with a free-kick and then finding Langworthy, who’d advanced forward from right-back, with a through ball; his left foot shot pulled narrowly wide with Town’s keeper beaten.
With the final score after extra-time 2 – 1 in favour of the Town U18s, Forest Green Rovers teenagers exit the competition with heads held high, having battled toe to toe with Swindon Town who progress to the next round, having been severely stretched.