EDS & Academy

Fiorini fires City into FA Youth Cup quarter-final

EARLY STRIKE: The City players celebrate after Lewis Fiorini's goal
FA Youth Cup
FA Youth Cup
Thu 6 Feb
Lewis Fiorini 
City are through to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals after edging past Fulham in a tightly contested fifth round clash at the Academy Stadium

Lewis Fiorini’s 11th minute strike ultimately proved the difference on a night where Gareth Taylor’s side were pushed all the way.

The visitors proved formidable opponents, creating a number of opportunities with Cieran Slicker producing a stunning late save to deny Jonathon Page but City held firm to book our ticket through to the last eight.

What happened

As to be expected with both sides topping their respective North and South segments of the Under 18 Premier League tables it was a highly competitive, compelling affair with Fulham proving formidable opponents.

There was a cagey opening to early moments with Fulham’s high press forcing City back and space at a premium as both sides sized each other up.

The first real chance on eight minutes fell Fulham’s way as Sylvester Jasper’s neat chipped free kick almost reach the onrushing Fabio Carvalho but City keeper Cieran Slicker was able to intercept.

However, with our very first attack, Taylor’s young charges made the all-important breakthrough on 11 minutes.

Attacking midfielder Lewis Fiorini – who found the target early in our last 32 win against Aston Villa – proved the City inspiration once again.

TARGET MAN : Lewis Fiorini wheels away in delight after his early goal
TARGET MAN : Lewis Fiorini wheels away in delight after his early goal

Picking the ball up midway in the Fulham half, Fiorini then ran at the visitors’ defence before curling home a superb shot from the edge of the box into the right hand corner of the net.

The visitors though remained a potent threat going forward with their energy also squeezing City’s normal fluidity.

On 33 minutes another teasing Jasper free-kick found Luca Murphy free at the back post but his header back across goal just missed the target.

Fulham’s best chance then arrived on 40 minutes. Stansfield’s neat through ball put Jasper in behind the City defence. Fortunately, however the Fulham forward’s effort was weak and well saved by Slicker.

The visitors’ pressing game continued to ask questions after the break with the game evenly poised despite City’s lead.

And It needed a timely clearance by Josh Wilson-Esbrand to clear our lines after a dangerous, surging left wing run by Oliver O’Neill.

Jayden Braaf then threatened at the other end, the young Dutchman cutting inside before shooting wide from just outside the box.

KNIGHT RIDER : Ben Knight rises to the challenge
KNIGHT RIDER : Ben Knight rises to the challenge

City then spurned a glorious opportunity to double our lead on 78 minutes.

Braaf created havoc with a slaloming run which turned the Fulham defence inside out before he fired across goal only for the unmarked Rogers to shoot wide from six yards out.

Slicker then produced a remarkable save to deny Page after a ricochet put the Fukham man through on goal just six yards out, the City keeper diving low to smother Page’s shot.

And City's hearts were in their mouths again when Stansfield bundled home - however the referee had blown for offside in the build-up.

How we lined up

Cieran Slicker was in goal, shielded by a back four of Alpha Diounkou, Luke Mbete-Tatu, Rowan McDonald and Josh Wilson-Esbrand. Skipper Tommy Doyle was the midfield anchor with Lewis Fiorini and Cole Palmer also operating in the engine room. Jayden Braaf, Morgan Rogers and Ben Knight were deployed as an attacking trio.

What it means

City’s reward is a quarter-final home tie against Burnley. The date and kick-off time will be announced in due course. 

What’s next

Gareth Taylor’s young charges return to action on Saturday, February 15th when we travel to play Reading in the semi-finals of the Under 18 Premier League Cup. Kick-off at the Bearwood Park Training Ground is slated for 11am.

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