The Isle of Man under-18s FA County Youth Cup campaign fell at the first hurdle on Saturday afternoon as they were beaten 1-6 by Cumberland at the Bowl.
The Manx made the perfect start to the first round tie, Union Mills’ talented teen Joey Morling slotting home club-mate Ronan McDonnell’s exquisite through ball after just two minutes.
Cumberland, however, drew level 11 minutes later when disaster struck the island defence - Laxey defender Tom Smith heading past his own keeper Toby Hedges.
The visitors then got their noses in front when Josh Charlton headed in despite the best efforts of Tom Jarvis to stop the ball on the line with his hand. Referee David O’Rourke electing to let the goal stand and not take any further action against the island midfielder for his blatant hand ball.
A two further goals went the way of the Cumbrians before the half-time break, Jamie Hope converting Aaron Kelly’s corner before big number nine Callum Birdsall bagged his first of the match.
The introduction of Laxey man mountain Rob McCowliff at the interval added some much-needed physical presence to the young island side, but Fred Conway’s bigger and more experienced away team still managed to strike two further goals in the second half.
Birdsall completed his brace midway through the period before sub Jon Murray’s neat finish after a determined run down the left made it six inside the final 10 minutes.
Things started so brightly for Steve Burns, Ben Qualtrough and Paul Bridson’s precocious charges, when Morling showed great composure to to finish McDonnell’s defence-splitting pass.
Indeed the Manx were only a whisker away from doubling their lead in the 12th minute when St George’s forward Reece Thompson struck the bar after good work by Tom Jarvis.
Barely a minute later, however, the visitors were level, when Smith headed into his own net.
With the island team’s confidence visibly shaken, Cumbria took charge edging in front when Charlton converted Birdsall’s knock back across goal.
Ayre keeper Toby Hedges became an increasingly busy figure as the away side piled forward and two goals in six minutes from Hope and Birdsall effectively killed the tie in the lead up to half-time.
The Manx rallied a little in the run up to the break, but the closest they came to a second goal was Sam Gelling’s stinging shot that was well saved by visiting custodian Ben Greig.
McCowliff’s introduction quelled the visiting pressure a little in the game’s second half, but Cumberland still managed to conjure up another two goals to add some further gloss to the scoreline.
Birdsall struck a lovely finish to make it five, before Murray’s curling finish made it six in the 80th minute as the Manx failed to pass their first test for the third season in succession.
Isle of Man: Toby Hedges, Matthew Rennie, Tom Smith, Jordan Kelly, Tom Wood (c), Tom Jarvis, Sam Gelling (Conor Birch 63m), Tom Cowley (Rob McCowliff 46m), Ronan McDonnell (Matthew Kent-Lloyd 71m), Joey Morling, Reece Thompson. Subs not used Joe Kelly and Brodie Patience.
- More reaction in Thursday’s Independent.