Hritika Sharma is a member of the FA’s Young Reporters’ Club and currently studies Football Journalism at the University of Derby.
It was a night of drama and fine margins in the East Midlands, and the occasion was the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup.
When the tie ended after 120 minutes, the visitors Watford were the victors; it hadn’t been easy, but then it never is.
It also took longer than expected: “Seven minutes more, come on!” came the shout from one of the Hornets. But it would take them many more, as they were about to find out. The reason?
“Foxes never quit.”
The words are impossible to miss when one walks through the tunnel and onto the pitch at the King Power Stadium.
- The FA Youth Cup
- Sixth Round Proper
- Wednesday 27 February 2019
- King Power Stadium, Leicester City FC
The youngsters from Leicester City and Watford saw it too and new City boss Brendan Rodgers and the 700 supporters in attendance were about to witness it first-hand.
The visitors had been in the lead and seemingly in control for most of the game, courtesy of an early penalty.
Their captain Ryan Cassidy was fouled by Justen Kranthove in the box and then stepped up to convert the spot-kick, drilling his shot into the bottom corner, past the outstretched hands of Oliver Bosworth.
The home team steadily built their momentum in attack but frustration had crept into their game, the reasons being the combined factors of a number of near-misses and visiting ‘keeper Dante Baptiste’s inspired form.
Leicester had earlier carved out the first opportunity of the night, and Baptiste kept out Dempsey Arlott-John’s header with a clawing effort.
Arlott-John v Baptiste would become a familiar sight, which was no surprise as the young striker was the focal point of Leicester’s attacking play.
A low drive palmed away, a long-range shot saved by the fingertips, a low save from inside the box: like the battle between their teams, this individual contest had everything.
But with five minutes remaining and Watford still ahead, Arlott-John danced his way through the away sides defence and curled a shot that floated towards the top right corner. Baptiste barely kept it out, back-pedalling to tip over at full stretch.
A Leicester goal had been coming, and it came in the very next minute. Edward Elewa-Ikpakwu delivered a fine cross from the right flank and hornets defender Harry Hudson slid in to divert the threat, only to send the ball into his own net.
And so, into extra time. Within seconds, Hudson blocked an effort from Arlott-John, Baptiste saved from substitute Harrison Myring and Watford forward Sonny Blu-Lo Everton had a dinked finish cleared off the line by Lukas Husek.
Minutes later, the visitors restored their lead as Terrell Pennant drew a save from Baptiste and Watford countered from the resulting corner with Emmanuel Adebiyi threaded a pass through to Cassidy, who scored his second of the night.
Knocking out Birmingham City, Southampton and Ipswich Town prior to this fixture, Watford were now on the brink of the semi-final and a chance to follow in footsteps of the teams who reached the final of the competition in 1985 and won it in 1982 and 1989.
Watford weathered the storm, their defensive qualities shone through and they did just enough to see out the game.
The young Foxes’ waves of attack did not stop until the final whistle; the applause that came from the crowd straight after was deserved, a recognition of their valiant efforts.
In the end they had lost, but they did not quit.