City’s Under-18s held off a late West Ham fightback to deservedly seal our passage through to the Premier League Under-18 Cup semi-finals.

First half goals from Michael Okeke and Ashton Muir had put Ben Wilkinson’s side in a dominant position at the break at the CFA.

The only frustration was that City didn’t convert our overwhelming superiority into more goals and when Hammers sub Mehmet Halim narrowed the deficit on 90 minutes, it made a for a nervy five minutes of added time.

But City prevailed to march through to the last four and maintain our quest for success in both the Under-17 and Under-18 Cup competitions.

What happened

Saturday’s quarter-final pitched together two rivals who knew each other well.

We had locked horns a few weeks ago in the FA Youth Cup fourth round in east London with City coming out on top 2-0.

And the young Blues and Hammers also met in the Under-18 Premier League national final last season at the Etihad, City edging a titanic tussle 2-1 after extra time.

With West Ham flying high in the Southern league section this term and City second in the Northern rankings, it meant all the portents were in place for a high-quality encounter.

And it was City who raced out of the blocks, with Wilkinson’s youngsters powering into a 2-0 goal inside the first quarter of an hour.

The opener came with just even minutes on the clock.

Charlie Gray fed a fine ball through to Matty Warhurst on the overlap on the left side of the box. He pinged in a low cross and Okeke latched onto a rebound off Joel Ndala and fired a low shot home into the bottom corner of the net.

Seven minutes later it was two.

Warhurst again found more space on the left side of the Hammers box and squared for the onrushing Ashton Muir who made no mistake from close range to double our advantage. 

It could and should have been more with City carving out several more fine opportunities.

On 22 minutes City launched another lightning break down the left channel and only an excellent save from Hammers keeper Finlay Herrick prevented Emilio Lawrence from extending the lead.

Four minutes later Herrick was again the West Ham saviour, diving to his left to keep out Ndala and then there was spot of pinball in the box as Warhurst and skipper Jacob Wright were both denied on the line.

Another searing City attack on 37 minutes saw Muir pick out Warhurst with a perfect cross but his deft header went just wide.

And just before the break there was a reminder of the Hammers threat. A well worked move saw left back Ryan Oyebade ping over a teasing cross and Favour Fawunmi met the ball at the far post but steered the effort wide.

City though maintained our dominance after the break only to see another clutch of chances go abegging.

On 69 minutes Ndala burst down the left wing before arrowing in an superb cross which just evaded onrushing substitute Farid Alfa Ruprecht

Two minutes later Alfa Ruprecht was presented with an even better opening only for Herrick to again deny City.

There was then a big scare at the opposite end when Harrison Parker lost possession and Daniel Rigge slammed a shot against the bottom of the post.

Twelve minutes from time Ndala was unable to convert another glorious chance after the winger had overpowered Hammers defender Golambeckis.

A nervy finale was then set up when West Ham sub Mehmet Halim converted from close range to give the visitors’ renewed hope on 90 minutes.

It made for a tense five minutes of injury time but City deservedly held firm to confirm our place in the semi-finals.

How we lined up

Oliver Whatmuff was in goal and shielded by a back four of Michael Okeke, Harrison Parker, Kian Noble and Stephen Mfuni.

Skipper Jacob Wright was City’s holding midfielder with Ashton Muir and Charlie Gray also in the engine room.

Matty Warhurst, Joel Ndala and Emilo Lawrence formed City’s attacking trident.

CITY XI | Whatmuff, Okeke, Parker (Henderson-Hall 90), Noble, Mfuni, Wright, Muir, Gray (Mukasa 66), Warhurst (Alfa-Ruprecht 60), Ndala, Lawrence

Subs: Hudson, Batty

WEST HAM XI | Herrick, Medine, Oyebade, Golambeckis, Briggs, Mayers, Akpata, Caliste, Ajala (Halim 75), Rigge (Hargan 83), Falumni (Dike 72)

Subs: Hooper, Kamara

What it means

City are through to the semi-finals where we will meet one of Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Leicester who all won their respective quarter-finals today.

Full details of the draw and fixture times will be confirmed on and our official App.

What’s next

The City youngsters are next in action on Saturday, February 10 when we visit Newcastle United in the Under-18 Premier League North.

Kick-off in the North East is slated for 11am (UK).

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