Douglas Hall 3
Mallow United 3 (Mallow United win 5-4 on penalties)
MALLOW United progressed to the next round of the SFAI U12 National Cup as they held their nerve to defeat a spirited Douglas Hall side on penalties on Sunday morning.
Mallow looked certain to make it through to the next phase of this prestigious competition in normal time as they had a two-goal advantage - both coming from Destiny Okharadia - going into the closing stages but late, late goals from Isaac Kennedy and David Joezfowski somehow forced this game into extra time.
The two teams couldn’t be separated in the additional period so this enthralling cup tie had to be decided with the dreaded penalty shootout.
And in the end, it was United who emerged victorious with the help of a great save from keeper Ruadhan McAuliffe which allowed Eoin Hegarty to fire in the winner.
Due to the excellent all-weather surface at Douglas Hall’s base in Moneygourney, this was one of the few fixtures that went ahead as planned over the course of the weekend, with many other games falling victim to the cold and the frost.
Understandably it took both sets of players time to warm up in this clash but when they did they produced a sensational contest worthy of this competition.
But it was the home side that settled into the conditions first and they twice threatened to take the lead in the opening minutes but after Isaac Kennedy blasted David Joezfowski’s pullback over, George O’Mahony turned the ball wide of the near post from a corner.
Hall would deservedly take the lead midway through the first half when O’Mahony coolly rolled the ball past the keeper after good work in the build-up by Kennedy.
Mallow, to their credit, responded well to that setback and they grabbed an equaliser shortly before the half time break when Ebuka Ogbusi’s ambitious but powerful strike from distance squirmed past the keeper.
The visitors carried that momentum into the second period and they completed the turnaround moments after the restart when Destiny Okharadia expertly planted the excellent Ogbusi’s pass into the top left corner.
McAuliffe did well to keep his side in front when he stretched to tup Jack Cunningham’s thunderous free kick past his left post.
And it seemed like that save would be decisive as Mallow soon made it 3-1 when Destiny Okharadia grabbed his second goal of the morning in style, sensationally volleying Mark Cronin’s free back across goal and into the same far top left corner he found earlier.
But Douglas refused to let their heads drop and they set up an exciting finale as Isaac Kennedy drilled the ball into the bottom left corner.
And deep into injury time they somehow levelled terms when David Jozefowski’s low drive crept inside the far left post.
These two talented sides could be separated in extra time so penalties were required and McAuliffe’s fine stop enabled Eoin Hegarty to slot home the winner for Mallow United.