AIRBUS Youth ensured the NEWFA U19s Youth Cup made a swift return to the Hollingsworth Group Stadium following a dramatic final at Brymbo Sports and Social Club.
An enthralling 90 minutes of football and a further 20 in extra-time couldn’t separate the Wingmakers from TNS, but keeper Keighan Jones was the hero, saving two spot kicks in a shoot-out.
In a repeat of last years final, a game in which Airbus were victorious, winning 2-0 at the home of Brickfield Rangers, TNS arrived at the match having already clinched the FAW u19s Development League and County Cup and also seen off Gap Connahs Quay Nomads and Cefn Druids to reach the final.
The Saints had the better of the early exchanges and they carved out arguably their best opportunity of the game in the very first minute where only a terrific point blank save from the unflappable Jones kept the game goalless.
Two free kicks from distance from the boot of TNS schemer Ryan Kershaw forced Jones into routine saves in quick succession and a dangerous in-swinging free kick from the left eluded everyone in the Airbus penalty area when any touch wound have inevitably resulted in the opening goal.
Then on 20 minutes a break down the TNS right ended with Jones pulling off a great stop down low to his right that he did well to push away from the on rushing striker. Airbus did look dangerous on the break and the lively Dominic Doherty carried a threat down the Airbus left and on the half hour mark he saw an effort comfortably saved at the near post by Andy Wycherly in the TNS goal.
It was Airbus who started the stronger at the start of the second half with Shaw twice forcing the TNS defenders into errors that almost led to chances.
As the half wore on a compelling battle in the middle of the pitch was starting to take shape.
But it was the Shropshire side that worked the best opening of the half, Airbus skipper Danny Burgess and his defensive partner Alex Buckley had done a great job of nullifying the threat of the Saints forward line but on this particular occasion they weren’t protected as well as they might have expected to be and the Wingmakers were fortunate that TNS’ Lewis Evans could only steer a back post header wide of the mark when he looked destined to score.
Airbus looked to take the game to TNS in the first period of extra time. A powerful run and centre from Barrow almost resulted in a shooting opportunity for fellow substitute James Murphy only for the defender to do well to block. Burgess saw a long looping effort collected well under pressure by Wycherley and an inswinging free kick from Murphy from the Airbus right caused confusion in the TNS defence that they eventually did well to clear.
Airbus almost won it with four minutes left on the clock. The ball sat up nicely 20 plus yards from goal at the feet of Airbus’ prolific striker Callum Burridge who struck the ball on the volley and only a great stop from Wycherly diving to his right prevented the ball from looping into the net and securing the win.
In the shoot-out, Jones kept out the second and fourth TNS kicks and Aled Bellis calmly finished the contest.
"I couldn’t be prouder of the boys," exclaimed Airbus youth manager Gareth Richards.
"We asked an awful lot of the players in the week leading up to the game as tactically we changed a lot of things in order to adapt to the pitch and to our opponents so the lads had to take in a great deal of information in a very short space of time.
"Tonight we saw a great example of what these boys are all about."
The night got even better for the Broughton side when results from the league went in their favour ensuring a league and cup double was secured in one evening! The Young Wingmakers now look to make it a hat-trick of trophies in this Friday's League Cup Final at The Hollingsworth Group Stadium.
Airbus line-up: K. Jones, Hewitt, Burgess (c), Buckley, Jackson, Bellis, Short, Shaw (Barrow 67), Rathbone (Murphy 74), Burridge, Doherty. Subs not used. Tarran (GK), Hamlington, L. Jones.
Man of The Match: Charlie Short.