Ryan Kidd’s Under 18 side progressed to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday evening, following a dramatic 4-2 win over the ten men of Stevenage after extra-time.
A bizarre passage of play in the first-half would see a twist of fortunes for Stevenage; first squandering the opportunity to draw level from an indirect free-kick inside the box, then having Sam Okoye see a straight red from the referee just seconds later.
Ben Thompson gave the young Shakers a deserved lead 14 minutes in, as captain Joe Adams placed an inch-perfect cross onto the boot of Thompson, who could not miss from point-blank range. This prompted the home side to push forward and cause problems to a disciplined Bury defence.
Stevenage's Bunja Conteh showcased a series of quick feet and trickery to find the space to loop the ball into the Bury area- after the initial ball failed to find a Stevenage head, striker Liam Smyth blasted the ball over the bar from close range, a let off which Bury would go on to benefit from.
Pressure ensued from Stevenage, who were intent on forcing Bury into an error at the back. A loose ball collected by goalkeeper Mark Edwards-Williams was adjudged to be handling of a back pass, a golden opportunity for Stevenage to equalise. The subsequent indirect free-kick from 8-yards out was bravely charged down by captain Joe Adams, providing the opportunity for the visitors to cause some damage on the counter-attack.
In a desperate attempt to slow the momentum of the Bury counter, Okoye saw red and lunged in wildly on Femi Seriki. The Baltic temperature at the Lamex Stadium will have done the right-back no favours, as the challenge resulted in Seriki receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch to be later replaced by Alen Moisin. Okoye was sent-off for such a reckless challenge from behind.
The man advantage played into Bury's hands, as they exploited the space left by the 10-men of Stevenage. Joe Adams, who had tested the gloves of Ethan Wady earlier in the half, would double the Shakers' advantage five minutes from half-time with a powerful strike into the bottom left corner, after cutting in from the right flank.
Half-time: Stevenage 0 Bury 2
Stevenage threw caution to the wind in the second-half in a full-winded attempt to recover the two-goal deficit. This left openings for Bury to exploit which they very nearly did- Saul Shotton was unlucky to see his headed effort shave the crossbar just shy of the hour mark.
The home team dug deep into their energy reserve to produce a frantic eight minutes in which Dylan Switters and Liam Smyth found the back of the Bury net, forcing the game to extra time.
Often testing in both physical and mental aspects, recuperating Stevenage players collapsed to the floor following the end of 90 minutes. Bury remained on their feet; evidently fresher than their opposition, who looked to have given all they could muster in order to stay in the game.
90 minutes: Stevenage 2 Bury 2
Fitness and mental fortitude were on full display from Bury after the restart, relentlessly pursuing the goal that would put them in front again. This would pay dividends in the last minute of the first half of extra time. Callum Hulme - who ran tirelessly from minute one - nodded the ball past Wady who couldn't collect the cross whipped in from the right.
Despite the elation of regaining the lead, Bury required calm heads to deal with the onslaught of long balls and overload of players into the box. The fresh legs of Cedric Ondoa from the bench in place of Aaron Brown were too much for the back line of Stevenage to cope with.
Ondoa sprung free from a series of incoming challenges, rounded the out-rushing goalkeeper and rolled the ball back into the net to restore Bury's two goal advantage, and send the Under 18's into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup for the second year running.
Full time (after extra-time): Stevenage 2 Bury 4
The Under 18's will be away at Peterborough United in the next round.
Stevenage: Ethan Wady, Paul Field, Theo Sackey-Mensah, Luis Fernandez, Sam Okoye, Arthur Iontton, Jack Smith (46' Gouldbourne), Dylan Switters, Liam Smyth, Bunja Conteh (85' Simms), Harry Draper (ET 2' Krasniqi)
Subs: Drillon Krasniqi, Harry Payne, Marcus Goldbourne, Devante Simms, Jack Moriaty
Bury: Mark Edwards-Williams, Femi Seriki (33' Moisin), Edward Jones, Bobby Copping, Jack Hatton, Saul Shotton, Joe Adams (ET 22' Patrick), Callum Hulme, Aaron Brown (ET 16' Ondoa), Callum Jones, Ben Thompson
Subs: Cedric Ondoa, Alex Moisin (66' D'Souza), Oliver Patrick, Louie D'Souza, Jerry Legrand