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Blackpool youth football match of the week: Lytham Junior Blues Under-14 v Thornton Cleveleys Whites

Lytham Junior Blues v Thornton Cleveleys Whites      Picture: KAREN TEBBUTT
Lytham Junior Blues v Thornton Cleveleys Whites Picture: KAREN TEBBUTT

Thanks to the Under-14 teams of Lytham Junior Blues and Thornton Cleveleys Whites for stepping in as our match of the week and providing a thrilling Hogan Cup first-round tie.

Thanks to the Under-14 teams of Lytham Junior Blues and Thornton Cleveleys Whites for stepping in as our match of the week and providing a thrilling Hogan Cup first-round tie.

Unfortunately our photographer was unable to attend our intended feature match, but the Blues and Whites staged a spectacular contest as the Blues recovered from three goals down at half-time to draw level only to lose out on penalties.

Talk about a game of two halves as the Thornton side controlled the first half to storm into a three-goal lead.

Jake Evans sped through to open the scoring before a cross reached George Wincott, who fired in a half-volley.

The Whites’ third was the most spectacular,a 30-yard strike into the top corner by Joe Smalley.

His manager Garry Ray said: “Joe had said before kick-off that he was going to score from halfway and he almost did.” But after a productive half-time discussion, the Blues were a different side in the second half and forced their way back into the contest, inspired by two goals by left winger Kane Twomey.

Kane began the comeback with a cracking drive into the top corner from 20 yards, then doubled his and his side’s tally with a back-post header from a free-kick.

Before long Kai Hallam made it 3-3 and both sides had chances to win it in normal time and avoid the dreaded shoot-out.

Both keepers made fine saves as penalties reached 2-2 after five apiece, meaning sudden death.

And it was an excellent save by Thornton’s Chris Ray which sealed their 3-2 spot-kick win.

Keeper Ray may be nicknamed ‘Kipper’ but he resembled a leaping salmon as he threw himself full-length to his left to get a strong hand to the final spot-kick and turn it around the post.

The Whites’ reward is a second-round tie against unbeaten league leaders Squires Gate, while the Blues will have a further chance of knockout success in the plate.

Lytham boss Paul Wright said: “It was a very enjoyable game. We didn’t seem up for the challenge in the first half but after a good team talk they performed like they can.”

“I don’t think we liked the cold weather in the first half but we rallied in the second and we’ll have another go in the Plate.”

The Plate will add to a very busy schedule for the Blues, who still have to accommodate nine league fixtures.

“I think we’ll be playing until the middle of the summer,” quipped boss Wright, “but if we can finish mid-table we’ll be very pleased.”

It will be a tall order for Garry Ray’s Whites in the next round but he said: “The lads love playing in the knockout games and this was a brilliant match.

“We were in control but they pinned us back in the second half. But it was a top cup-tie, played in a great spirit and brilliantly refereed.”

Two-goal Twomey was Lytham’s player of the match, a constant threat down the flank.

The Thornton choice was left wing-back Jaydn Walsh, who showed boundless energy to get up and down