Hayes and Yeading United had to dig deep to make progress in the FA Youth Cup and overcome a Wingate & Finchley side via a penalty shoot out, as they came up against a side who were very impressive going forward and who played with a man advantage for over an hour.
It is fair to say that Wingate & Finchley pretty much dominated the first half, although play was stop-start for the first ten minutes as a succession of challenges were called for a foul. However, on the ten minute mark, two deft turns and neat control from Coskun Grantham conjured the first near miss as he fired just wide from outside the area.
They had a few other dangerous moments straight afterwards, and Hakim Nyariki fired just over from 20 yards. Wingate & Finchley continued to press and after earning a corner, went close with a near post header from Bradley Marriot which went inches wide.
United had to wait until 20 minutes in before coming close, and that was a rather hopeful long shot which Dylan Kearney dragged a few yards wide. This was followed up eight minutes later with the first effort on target, another long shot, this time from Cole Brown which was comfortably fielded by keeper Sam Brazier.
After this spell where United were beginning to get their way back in, some defensive lapses swayed momentum back Wingate & Finchley's way as K-Ci Steadman capitalised on a weak punch under duress from Hugo Sobte but his goalbound shot was diverted away by Dan Callen. Immediately afterwards, Paolo Montella was unlucky twice as Sobte caught his first long range effort and then beat his second away diving to his left to preserve parity going into the break.
The second half started again with play being punctuated by fouls, although one such foul brought about the opening goal for United as James Taylor's deep free kick wasn't dealt with and James Smith nodded in the loose ball from close range.
Having got their noses in front on a difficult evening, they suffered quite a set back when Timon Khyne-Sam got himself sent off when, already on a first half booking, he committed two rather cheap fouls, one after the other, and the inevitable second caution came. Despite this, United began to assert themselves and Matt Sinclair twice fired in long shots on target but Brazier was able to keep them out, despite struggling somewhat with the second.
Play became much more open and intense as the second half developed. Steadman wriggled through a challenge to the edge of the box and despite falling on his first shot, which Colin Mugoya blocked, he got a second shot away which went just wide of the post. Then, after receiving a great pass from Darnelle Austin, Jamie Rawsthorne cut in from the left and fired a powerful effort just over. Play switched to the other end and Sinclair went inches wide twice, first with a cross which just evaded both Scott Newland and the far post and then with a low drilled shot following a smart turn.
Wingate & Finchley sensed they were running out of time and began to turn up the pressure in the closing stages. On 85 minutes, they finally broke through to claim the equaliser as Steadman latched onto a long ball from the left hand side and lobbed the on rushing Sobte.
Still United tried to take it on the break as Brown's attempt was charged down and Kearney followed up with a low drive which Brazier fielded. However, in stoppage time, Steadman almost capped a fine performance with the winning strike, cutting in from the right only to fire a shot which dipped just too late, and so extra time was needed.
As can sometimes be the way, a fast flowing 90 minutes can be followed by a less entertaining extra time and only a rather tame long shot from Nicholas Kouroushi and another from Montella was all the first period had to show for it as Wingate & Finchley continued to enjoy the lions share of the game. The second period was even less of a spectacle as players from both sides struggled with cramp and except for a disallowed goal, Wingate & Finchley didn't really come close to making their numerical advantage count so a penalty shoot out was needed.
Wingate & Finchley took the first penalty and scored, but James Taylor equalised. The next Wingate & Finchley penalty was saved by Sobte, so Dan Callen scoring gave United the lead after two each. Sobte beat the third away at full stretch meaning Kearney could put United 3-1 up, and did. The next one was scored but keeper Sobte took the fourth himself and clinched it 4-2 to send United through.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: James Smith.