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Gale's goals guides Blues in FA Youth Cup

Matthew Gale (pictured centre) celebrates his first goal of the match with Alfie Barker.

Matthew Gale’s hat-trick guided Long Eaton United U18s through the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup as the Blues hit Quorn for six at Grange Park.

The Blues will now host Ilkeston Town U18s in the Preliminary Round in the week commencing 4th September.

United started on the front foot with a very high press and were almost ahead after eight minutes when Caleb Horsley won back possession and played Daniel Sully, although his effort from the edge of the area was denied by the outside of the far post.

Long Eaton continued to box the visitors in and moments later carved out another great chance. Gale’s cross to the back post found Harrison Pearson unmarked but the Quorn’s goalkeeper took one for the team with a save that left him in some discomfort.

When the match resumed, with the visitors number one fit to continue, the hosts had a succession of set pieces which Quorn somehow came out of unscathed as the visiting keeper once again commanded the crowded area well enough.

Quorn struggled to maintain possession of the ball but looked dangerous when they hit on the counter. Attacking down the left, the visitors attempted to cut inside but a strong slide tackle from Maxim Pearson brought an end to the move.

The Blues pressing paid off in the 31st minute. Gale and Alfie Barker forced a turnover while Quorn attempted to play out from the back and Harrison Pearson took aim from distance - the goalkeeper was equal to the effort but Sully was there to tuck away the rebound and put Long Eaton ahead in the cup tie.

Quorn soon found a way back into the match in the 39th minute, as they attacked down the right and crossed for their number nine to net the equaliser.

Though the match would not stay level for long, just four minutes later Gale restored the advantage after Harrison Pearson’s cross deflected fortuitously for the winger to tap in at the far post.

Then, in injury time, Jonny Lees played the ball wide for Gale to cut inside, pick out the bottom corner and double the lead right before the break.

Three minutes after the restart, Lees’ threaded pass played Gale through on the counterattack, and the winger slotted the ball past the keeper to seal his hat-trick.

At the other end of the pitch, Quorn counterattacked down the right side once more and scored their second of the match in the 57th minute.

But it was too little too late from the visitors who still needed another three goals to get back into the match after Gale’s corner kick was bundled over the line in the 64th minute, with Harrison Pearson claiming to have headed it in.

Fullback Luke Campbell almost caught the Quorn keeper in no man's land, as he battled for the ball outside the box, Campbell turned and shot but could only find the side netting.

Substitute Corey Gregory came agonisingly close to scoring the sixth as full-time approached. Maxim Pearson surged forward from centre-half and played a neat one-two with Harrison Pearson before sending Gregory through, the midfielder sent his marker with a body feint but missed the target by mere inches!

With seconds left to play, Gale hit a powerful snapshot which the goalkeeper parried into the path of Sully, who brought the ball under his control before dispatching Long Eaton’s sixth and final goal.

Starting XI: Thomas Bell; Jacob Murray, Luke Campbell, Jonny Lees, Maxim Pearson, Hugo Henderson ©, Caleb Horsley, Alfie Barker, Harrison Pearson, Matthew Gale, Daniel Sully.

Substitutes: Sam Caplin; Ethan Humphries, Leo Hall, Oliver Mercer, Corey Gregory, Kairell James

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