Josh Eppiah

Valiant Foxes Denied Consecutive Hong Kong Soccer Sevens Title

Holders Leicester City exited the Hong Kong Citi Soccer Sevens following a 4-3 extra-time defeat by Newcastle United at the semi-finals stage on Sunday.
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After City had booked their place in the last-eight on Saturday, matches were extended to 20 minutes in length with the possibility of four-a-side period of extra-time, featuring the golden goal rule.

Leicester’s day could hardly have begun in a more positive fashion with an assured 2-0 success over Aston Villa, the side they defeated 3-0 in last year’s Main Cup Final.

While goalkeeper Daniel Iversen, 20, was called upon to make a vital save to deny Callum O’Hare from close-range, the Foxes were comfortable for large periods of an entertaining game.

City’s pressure paid off in the 13th minute as Josh Eppiah, who scored twice on Day 1, found Josh Gordon to sweep it across goal and into the far corner from the left.

A quick-fire double substitution from coach Ben Petty paid dividends inside 60 seconds after the restart with defender Sam Hughes adding his name to the scoresheet.

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Josh Gordon and Lamine Kaba Sherif
Josh Gordon and Lamine Kaba Sherif

Gordon struck City's first goal of the day against Aston Villa.

His neat one-two with Eppiah in the box afforded the 21-year-old with enough time and space to pick his spot in the bottom corner, giving Leicester an ultimately unassailable lead.

That victory set up a last-four encounter with another English side, Newcastle United, in what turned out to be an enthralling, but frustrating, end to their 2018 campaign.

Just seconds after Victor Fernandez had fired the Magpies into an early lead, Eppiah was laid up nicely by Gordon to convert an equaliser for Petty’s young side.

City briefly took control of the tie, too, when Romania Under-21s international defender Alex Pascanu’s audacious low drive from distance found the bottom corner.

But Fernandez restored parity from the penalty spot just before half-time after Lamine Kaba Sherif was adjudged to have fouled the Spaniard in the box.

The North East outfit pushed for another after the break and they appeared to have confirmed their progression to the Final when Matty Longstaff found the net in the 18th minute.

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Ben Petty
Ben Petty

Petty watches on from the sidelines in 35 degree heat.

However, Leicester rallied once more and Eppiah broke with speed to race past his man and rattle it into the bottom corner to tee up a grandstand finish.

With the competition rules allowing players to return from the bench for the four-a-side period of extra-time, Gordon and Josh Knight featured, with the latter functioning as a sweeper ‘keeper.

Despite a valiant effort from City, though, Callum Roberts ended their hopes of reaching a second successive showpiece with a low finish in the 23rd minute, winning the tie on the golden goal rule.

Development Squad coach Ben Petty told LCFC TV: "We’re obviously disappointed but again, I’m so proud of the lads, the way they’ve come out here and tried to retain the trophy.

"The standard we set last year was really high and I think we’ve hit that again. To go out in the golden goal is cruel but I’m proud of them and I’m delighted with the efforts."

Day 2 results:

Quarter-Final: City 2 Aston Villa 0 (Gordon 13’, Hughes 14’)
Iversen, Johnson (c), Knight (Hughes 13’), Kaba Sherif, Pascanu, Gordon (Muskwe 13’), Eppiah (Ndukwu 15’)

Semi-Final: City 3 Newcastle United 4 AET (Eppiah 3’, 19’ Pascanu 8’)
Iversen, Pascanu, Johnson (c), Knight (Ndukwu 17’), Kaba Sherif (Hughes 10’), Gordon (Muskwe 15’), Eppiah

Day 1 results:

City 1 Singapore Cricket Club 0 (Pascanu 12’)
Iversen, Johnson (c), Knight (Hughes 12’), Kaba Sherif (Pascanu 9’), Gordon (Muskwe 7’), Ndukwu, Eppiah

City 3 HKFA Red Dragons 0 (Eppiah 1’, 2’, Kaba Sherif 11’)
Iversen, Hughes, Knight (Muskwe 7’), Johnson (c), (Ndukwu 7'), Gordon, Eppiah (Kaba Sherif 7’), Pascanu

City 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 2
Iversen, Pascanu (Hughes 7'), Johnson (c), Ndukwu (Gordon 7'), Knight, Kaba Sherif (Hughes 7'), Eppiah

Leicester City Crest

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