REECE ROBERTSHAW bagged four goals as Linthwaite Under 13s turned on the first-half power to help secure a 5-2 win over North Gawber in the League Cup second round.
Two of the most improved sides in the Under 13 age group met at Royds Hall School, but the much anticipated close encounter never materialised as Linthwaite hit five first-half goals to sink their opponents.
Having conceded only seven goals in nine league and cup games previously, North Gawber arrived in confident mood but, somehow, their normally fluent passing game completely deserted them as Linthwaite virtually settled the issue before half time.
North Gawber started brightly enough with Jay Sanders and Barry Cooper taking the game to Linthwaite, but a quick break left the visitors stunned when Reece Robertshaw slotted the ball past keeper Andy Jessop to give the home side a confidence-boosting 1-0 lead.
With their nerves now settled, Linthwaite proceeded to take advantage of a surprisingly disjointed North Gawber and their lead was doubled 10 minutes later, when Zak Sharif and Dominik Moorhouse combined to provide a cross which was met by Robertshaw, who stuck out a foot and then jumped for joy as the ball looped over the helpless Jessop into the net.
Linthwaite were on a roll and the visitors had no answer as Nathan Oates, Ben Boulton, Tomi Macreeagh and Clayton Phillips piled on the pressure and, when Robertshaw completed his hat trick following a speedy break through the middle, the promised classic meeting of two top teams seemed highly unlikely.
Liam Reilly almost got on the scoresheet after half an hour but, although the midfielder’s shot rattled a post and bounced away to safety, he made amends soon after with another fine effort which, this time, found the back of the net.
Robertshaw was back in the action again just before half time when he met a Macreeagh free kick at the far post to give Linthwaite a well deserved but very surprising five-goal half time lead.
Having enjoyed a shot-free first half, Linthwaite keeper Reece Hirst was about to endure a torrid second half as North Gawber finally came to life, producing the kind of football which had been expected from the start.
Joy Kankambouadu warmed Hirst’s hands for the first time in the game with a shot from 10 yards before Barry Cooper grabbed a superb solo effort to give North Gawber a glimmer of hope with half an hour to go.
The alarm bells started to ring for the home side when Cooper’s power and pace gave him a second goal just five minutes later.
Inspired by a couple of early goals, Kurtis Parker, Keaton Lunn and Matthew Ward were now controlling midfield for North Gawber, and it was now the turn of Jordan Cropper, Callum Harriot-Brown, Dominic Ellam and Alex Hall to show that Linthwaite can defend as well as attack.
Kankambouadu, Cooper and Tom Burgess continued the wreak havoc throughout the rest of the second half but, when they did break through, the excellent Hirst was on hand to pull off a string of fine saves and, although North Gawber continued to grow stronger, they were unable to improve on their two goals to give Linthwaite safe passage into the third round.
Linthwaite will take inspiration from this victory as they continue on course for a double.
North Gawber will, no doubt, be chasing them all the way for the title, but they will need to look hard at what went wrong here as they can’t afford to slip up too many times.