Forest Green Rovers Under 18s bowed out at the second round of the Youth Alliance Cup as they slipped to a dramatic penalty shootout defeat against Plymouth Argyle.
Dan Bradshaw opened the scoring after 58 minutes as he calmly slotted home from the penalty spot, before Dylan Morgan doubled the home side’s lead after controlling a cross and placing the ball into the bottom corner.
Two late goals from the visitors levelled things up, before they held their nerve to take the shootout 7-6.
Under 18s manager Chris Barker voiced his feeling after the game, addressing the positives from the midweek performance.
“The overall performance was good, but we conceded two goals from corners in the last five minutes. It’s been a while since we’ve conceded form a set-piece so hopefully it’s a one off,” he explained.
“Overall we did ok and played well in possession, we created chances and probably could have scored a couple more, but we just need to learn how to close out a game.
“The same scenario happened three days before when Swindon scored a winner with 10 seconds to go so we need the boys to learn to shut up shop for the last 20 minutes.
“To be 2-0 up in a cup game and to go on to lose on penalties is tough. I thought we were in control of the game but it’s unfortunate that we let those goals in to miss out on the next round.
“When you’re 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go and let the two goals in like we did, it can be disappointing, but if the boys learn from that and take it into the next six months, a year or 10 years of their career then it’s a positive and a learning curve.”
Taking penalties is a nerve-wracking experience at the best of times, and Baker understands the pressure it puts on his players’ young shoulders.
“The boys are brave to step up and take a penalty, and in my eyes missing the kick isn’t too much of a problem,” he said.
“It’s a 50/50 scenario in a shootout and I’m proud of the boys that they sorted it out themselves and got up to take a kick.
“It finished 7-6 in the end, and there were some really good penalties from both teams. We lost on penalties, but probably should have won in 90 minutes.”