THREE Whitby footballers starred for North Yorkshire Schools when they faced Cheshire schools at U18 level in the last four of the northern counties competition at Lythe.
Defender Ryan Braithwaite and strikers Robbie Seaton and Liam Beckett turned out for the North Yorkshire side, managed by Whitby’s Mike Mastrolonardo and assisted by Dale Corcoran, which won 1-0 thanks to Seaton’s winner.
This sets up a ‘war of the roses’ final against Lancashire at either Lancashire at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road or Burnley’s Turf Moor on 21 May.
North Yorkshire had won the Northern Counties (east division) comfortably, topping the table above the very strong Northumberland and Durham sides as well as Cleveland, South Yorkshire and Cumbria.
North Yorkshire enjoyed an unbeaten qualification with wins in all but one of their games – a draw against national cup semi finalists Northumberland.
Sport Mulgrave provided the venue to the prestigious fixture. The game was initially a tight affair with the visitors from the west side proving to be very good technical side and a stern test for the Northern Counties East Champions.
As the game wore on and tiredness crept in, gaps started to appear and chances were created.
Beckett, playing at centre forward, had the beating of the tall centre back marking him – certainly on the ground.
He twice beat his opponent to get in two shots that the visiting keeper did well to stop.
Whitby team-mate Seaton was industrious and started to impose himself as the game wore on, along with captain James Gunn form Scarborough Sixth Form and North of England player James De Cosemo from Stokesley.
The second half saw North Yorkshire move the ball quicker – a difficult task on the dry pitch – they also endeavoured to use the full width of the pitch more often.
Braithwaite was brought on at full back and he added some athleticism to the cause and linked well with Abassi and Seaton down the left flank.
The demand to use the ball quicker and more incisively was heeded by De Cosemo after 55 minutes as he played Beckett in first time after the hard-running Whitby forward made a sharp run in the inside right channel to shoot first time and force a fine save out of the Cheshire goalkeeper. But his parry fell to Seaton who made no mistake from close range for 1-0.
Cheshire, who had largely played on the counter-attack in the second period, had to then come out and North Yorkshire should have doubled their lead when a casual effort from Beckett went straight at the keeper.
An Ali Holmes header from a De Cosemo free-kick hit the crossbar while the home defence largely contained the north-westerners.
North Yorkshire U18s 1 Cheshire U18s 0