A dazzling Danny Fryer hat-trick propelled Squires Gate into the semi-finals of the Under-13 Hogan Cup with a 5-1 home win over YMCA.
A tight and well-fought first half ended goalless but then the outstanding Fryer came to the fore.
His first was a rocket into the roof of the net, the second a superb turn and shot into the bottom left corner, and the third a reward for tireless running as Fryer chased down the keeper.
Leon Smith sidefooted into the bottom right corner and Imaan Amin was Gate’s’s other scorer, dancing round the defence before firing home.
The first half had been far closer, with both teams having chances. Indeed YMCA forced a series of corners which resulted in headers not far over the top, with captain Archie Hingley and Ben Elliott going close.
YMCA continued to battle on in the second half as the match slipped away from them, though the home side had scored four by the time the visitors pulled one back.
Nathaniel Gili-Ross scored it in style, cutting in from the right, taking on the defence and beating the keeper, though there was still time for Gate to have the final say with a late fifth goal.
Gili-Ross was the YMCA man of the match for a very strong performance in central midfield, while Fryer was unsurprisingly the Squires Gate choice.
Delighted Gate manager Nick Grindley said: “We always have good games with YMCA. A lot of the players know each other from school and the games are always played in the right spirit.
“The first half was very even, but we were convincing winners in the second half and took our chances.
“We are having a satisfactory season. It’s a tough transition from nine-a-side to 11 but we are holding our own and are fourth in the league. “
YMCA manager Tony Dyer admits it has been a season of struggle but he has grounds for optimism.
He said: “The first half was very close but after they scored they were the better side.
“We won with 10 men a few weeks ago but we have been struggling for numbers this season, having lost some good players. But the lads are enjoying it and we’re looking forward to building for next season.”
Gate will play Poulton in the semis at Stanley Park.