EDS & Academy

Under-18s cruise into FA Youth Cup final

Under-18s cruise into FA Youth Cup final
FA Youth Cup
FA Youth Cup
Fri 30 Oct
Manchester City Under-18s have again reached the FA Youth Cup final after a convincing 4-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at St George’s Park.

Carlos Vicens’ side will lock horns with Chelsea in the showpiece game after goals from Joe Hodge, Liam Delap, James McAtee and Jayden Braaf saw off the spirited Lancashire outfit.

Their industry made it a tight encounter even after Hodge broke the deadlock from 30-yards, but City’s dominance was rewarded in the final 10-minutes when we capitalised on mistakes to add gloss to the score line.

What happened

Our starting line-up boasted three players with first team experience in Delap, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Cole Palmer and that quality showed throughout.

City were slick, whilst Blackburn – managed by former City man Mike Sheron - were resolute in their defending.

It sent Vicens’ side wide in the early exchanges, when good play from Ben Knight and Palmer forced Jordan Eastham into a couple of smart saves, and he was at his best to keep out an 18-yard drive from Morgan Rogers that looked destined for the bottom corner.

Blackburn had vociferous penalty appeals waved away before the break when Jake Garrett was convinced he’d been fouled by CJ Egan-Riley, but referee Ross Joyce was unmoved in a game in which VAR was not in use.

Hodge’s fierce strike, which Eastham was unable to claw out, deservedly broke the deadlock, but Blackburn then had a glorious opportunity to equalise.

Sam Durrant delivered an inviting right-wing cross for Luke Brennan, but the winger, who has played for the first team, headed over when unmarked at the far post.

It was a rare scare for City goalkeeper James Trafford, who was reduced to a spectator’s role for much of the game, and his team’s superiority was rewarded as Blackburn’s previously tight defence opened up as legs tired.

Palmer’s short free-kick caught the opposition unaware and allowed him to play a teasing ball across goal for Delap to smash home from six-yards and the striker had a second ruled out for offside after he converted when substitute Braaf’s effort came back off the post.

The impressive McAtee put the game beyond doubt as he dispossessed his opposite number on the edge of the area before calmly converting and two minutes later, Braaf wrapped up the points.

Blackburn had chased the ball all evening and a tired pass across the penalty area from James Connolly went straight to the Dutch winger, who slotted into the bottom corner.

Liam delap reaction

"It was a tough game for the first 80 minutes, but once we got the first goal we knew we could get it out wide and play aggressive and we ended up scoring three goals from on it.

"When the competition got rescheduled in lockdown we were just waiting to get started again because we know we’ve got a good chance of winning it.

"We just need to push on in the final and hopefully win."

What it means

City are into the FA Youth Cup final for the fifth time in six seasons, where we will face Chelsea after they beat Manchester United 1-0 in their semi-final.

That game will again be played at St George’s Park on Monday 2 November, with kick-off at 19:30 (UK).

How we lined up

Trafford’s goal was protected by a back four of Egan-Riley, captain Harwood-Bellis, Luke Mbete and Alpha Diounkou.

Hodge, Knight and McAtee comprised the midfield three, with Palmer on the right wing and Rogers on the opposite side.

Delap led the line up front.

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