A DREADFUL penalty shoot-out saw York City reserves suffer an ill-deserved North Riding Cup semi-final defeat to Middlesbrough under-23s.

Raul Correia, Josh Law and Aaron Haswell all saw their spot kicks saved, while Stephen Walker, Micthell Curry and Layton Watts converted from 12 yards to book a final meeting with the winners of next week’s Thornaby and Scarborough Athletic clash.

The visitors were fortunate not to be beaten over 90 minutes, with City having only been denied victory deep into stoppage time, courtesy of a controversially-awarded penalty that Luke Simpson saved only for the taker Walker to follow up and net, making the score 3-3. A bizarre own goal by Boro captain Matthew Elsdon had earlier given City the lead after Clovis Kamdjo and Harry Thompson had twice levelled following Mikael Soisalo and Stephen Wearne efforts for the visitors.

The Minstermen included six players with first-team experience – Kamdjo, Simpson, Connor Smith, Law, Theo Wharton and Correia – with the match also serving as the second of Jon Parkin’s three-game suspension, meaning the 25-goal top scorer will now be available for next Tuesday night’s trip to Kidderminster after completing his ban this weekend with the home clash against Boston.

Boro, without anybody boasting senior appearances to their name, had an excellent chance to open the scoring with less than three minutes on the clock but, after sprinting clear through the left channel, Mitchell Curry failed to test Simpson with only the City keeper to beat.

Moments later, Smith dragged a 20-yard effort wide, while Curry saw another opportunity blocked by Josh Rogerson.

Excellent wing play by Vinny Steels then saw him beat two players before reaching the byline and teeing up Correia, whose header cleared the crossbar.

Aaron Haswell also curled wide from just outside the penalty area after Wharton and Correia had combined, before an overlapping Steels fired into the sidenetting following a Flynn McNaughton pass.

On the quarter-hour mark, Simpson grabbed a firm low shot by Curry, but the Minstermen responded with Correia muscling himself into a shooting position, only to drill straight at Middlesbrough keeper Brad James.

Smith went on to shoot across the face of goal again after exchanging passes with Haswell and McNaughton’s low drive was pushed around his near post by James.

On-loan Blackpool striker Correia, meanwhile, had a shot deflected wide, which led to Rogerson heading off target from a Law corner.

As the first half drew to a close, both keepers were called into action to gather Jay Wilson and Correia attempts, but the visitors forged in front on 45 minutes.

Soisalo broke through the right channel and his low shot found the net despite Simpson’s attempt to save with his legs.

City might still have gone into the interval level, though, with James saving smartly from a Kamdjo header after Haswell’s free kick.

The hosts were bright after the restart with Haswell’s deflected drive going close.

After Boro sub Bilal Brahimi booted a shot over the away end, Haswell also cut in from the right to test James following Kamdjo’s long diagonal pass.

On 52 minutes, Correia smacked another shot at James after being set up by Wharton, while the visitors’ keeper was better tested by a firm Steels effort that he parried away.

Correia couldn’t guide a Haswell cross towards goal either, while Daniel Dodds’ strike at the other end was diverted off target by Law’s head.

A deserved equaliser arrived on 66 minutes, though, when Kamdjo towered high to head powerfully past James from a right-wing Haswell corner.

Moments later, Law hit the Longhurst roof from just inside the penalty box, while a Smith piledriver was pushed away by James and Correia saw his low shot cleared off the line by Elsdon.

Law went closer on 75 minutes when his thumping free kick bounced narrowly wide.

But, with the home side in the ascendancy, a Simpson blunder two minutes later saw the visitors regain the lead.

Sloppy play with his feet saw the City keeper gift possession to Layton Watts and his cross was tapped into an inviting net by Wearne.

Thompson got City back on level terms, however, in emphatic fashion on 82 minutes, heading powerfully into James’ top-left corner from an inviting Smith centre.

Three minutes later, the Minstermen led for the first time on the night when Smith swung in a free kick from the right and, after the ball bounced up, Elsdon’s attempt at a headed back pass bounced into James’ bottom-left corner.

But penalties were forced in the fourth minute of stoppage time when referee Dane McCarick puzzled everyone by pointing to the spot.

Walker’s 12-yard effort was initially saved by Simpson, but the former England under-17 international followed up to net.

City: Simpson, Smith, Rogerson, Kamdjo, Law, Haswell, Thompson, Wharton, Steels, McNaughton, Correia.

Attendance: 151