Manchester City Under-18s produced a fine all-round performance to secure a convincing 4-0 FA Youth Cup third round win away at Clevedon Town.
On a testing night in the South West with the rain lashing down and a packed crowd shoe-horned into the Everyone Active Stadium, Gareth Taylor’s side were cool, calm and collected, scoring two first half goals from Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle.
And the Blues’ dominance continued after the break with Ben Knight and Henri Ogunby adding to the scoreline to secure a fourth round home draw against Nottingham Forest.
Heavy rain beforehand had lent a greasy sheen to the playing surface and with almost 2,000 fans crammed into the Everyone Active Stadium, it represented a test of nerve and character for City’s young charges.
They answered the challenge in the best way possible by taking the game by the scruff of the neck from the word go.
D’Margio Wright-Phillips and Lewis Fiorini both saw early efforts deflected wide as the Blues dominated possession and territory.
And on nine minutes City’s dominance was rewarded with the opening goal.
Fiorini was the architect, his teasing cross evading the Clevedon defence and finding Taylor Harwood-Bellis who made no mistake from close range.
The hosts sought a response with City keeper Louie Moulden reacting smartly to keep out Ethan Feltham’s low shot but otherwise the Blues remained in the ascendancy and we doubled our advantage on 20 minutes in spectacular style.
Tommy Doyle capped a fine individual display by dispatching a sublime 25 yard free-kick into the top right-hand corner of the net which even had the home fans purring in appreciation.
City could have further added to our tally with Larkins clearing a Fiorni effort off the line and home keeper Sam Blackiston standing up bravely to deny Doyle from 10 yards.
As the rain returned after the break, making the pitch even more tricky, so the intensity ramped up a notch with some hefty challenges going in.
City however maintained our control and composure even if chances were at more of a premium.
Lewis Fiorini was unlucky to see a spectacular overhead kick just clear the bar after a McDonald effort had earlier been ruled out for a foul in the build-up.
However, City’s overwhelming superiority was rewarded again on 78 minutes. Braaf found space on the left wing and his cross found Knight unmarked in the box and he finished with aplomb.
That prompted Clevedon into their best moment of the night, substitute Alex Kemsley’s 20-yard effort whistling just wide.
But City were not to be denied and substitute Henri Ogunby rounded off a solid night’s work by converting Wright-Phillips fine pass to set the seal on victory and secure our fourth round ticket.
How we lined up
Louie Moulden was in goal protected by a back four of Jeremie Frimpong, skipper Rowan McDonald, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Nathanel Ogbeta.
Joe Hodge was the midfield shield with Tommy Doyle, Ben Knight further forward and Jayden Braaf and D’Margio Wright-Philips provided the width. Lewis Fiorni was deployed in the strike role.
What it means
The Blues will play at home to Nottingham Forest in the fourth round. Date and kick-off time to be confirmed
The Academy side now take a break over Christmas and the New Year. We return to action in the U18s Premier League on Saturday, January 12 when we travel to Newcastle United.