Farid Alfa-Ruprecht’s late strike saw City Under-18s pull off a dramatic 2-1 victory at Newcastle in the Under-18 Premier League North.

After an opening 45 minutes that saw neither team look particularly enthusiastic in front of goal, a moment of brilliance from Luca Fletcher on the brink of half-time saw City take the lead.

Ben Wilkinson’s side looked impenetrable as Newcastle struggled to find an equaliser until Darren Palmer found the corner six minutes before full-time.

But the City youngsters showed grit and determination to secure all three points as a perfectly weighted through ball from the restart put Alfa-Ruprecht through on goal and able to restore City’s lead seconds later.

WHAT HAPPENED

City’s last visit to Newcastle United’s Academy saw us draw 2-2 and Wilkinson’s side expected another close encounter on Saturday morning.

The first half consisted of both sides trying to dominate possession and slowly build momentum before trying to find the opening goal.

And it looked like the half-time whistle would ring around the Academy ground with the score level.

But, Fletcher – in the absence of City’s regular number nine Matty Warhurst – showcased his eye for goal in the 44th minute.

Fletcher received the ball from Divine Mukasa and his quick thinking saw him turn and unleash a shot from the edge of the box, catching the goalkeeper Aidan Harris off guard as the ball flew into the bottom left corner to put City ahead.

Wilkinson’s side then looked to put the game to bed, peppering Newcastle’s third with passes down both flanks as City edged towards the host’s goal.

But it was Newcastle who would have the best chance after 20 minutes of the second half. Spike Brits, on his return to the starting 11, was called into action and pulled off a fantastic low save to deny the hosts from levelling the score.

As time dwindled down, the Magpies grew confident they could gain something from the match. And it seemed they would through an 85th minute equaliser from Palmer who buried a cross from the right.

However, City’s resilience remained prominent. And it took Wilkinson’s side seconds to regain the lead. A marvellous lobbed long ball by Kaden Braithwaite into the path of Alfa-Ruprecht quickly put an end to Newcastle’s celebrations as they focused on defending.

A mesmerising cut inside from the winger gave him space to fire a strike towards the far post, out of reach for Harris, and rippled the Newcastle net as the City players celebrated together in the corner to extend our winning form to three games in all competitions. 

HOW WE LINED UP

Spike Brits returned from a spell on the side lines and was protected by a backline of Seb Naylor, Stephen Mfuni, Kian Noble and Matty Henderson-Hall.

In City’s engine room, Charlie Gray was deployed as City’s central defensive midfielder with Divine Mukasa and skipper Aston Muir looking to help move the ball out wide.

And City’s attacking line was led by  Luca Fletcher with Christian Dunbar-McDonald on the left flank and Farid Alfa-Ruprecht on the right.

NEWCASTLE XI | Harris, R. Powell ©, Charlton, H. Powell (Milmore 84’), Watts, Munda, Brayson (Ferreira 67’), Shahar (O’Donovan 78’), Neave, Palmer, Sanusi

UNUSED SUBS | Harrison, Bloomer  

CITY XI | Brits, Henderson-Hall, Noble, Mfuni (Braithwaite 67’), Naylor, Gray, Alfa-Ruprecht, Muir © (Fapetu 82’), Fletcher, Mukasa (Batty 82’), Dunbar-McDonald (Alcala 86’)

UNUSED SUBS | Hudson

WHAT IT MEANS

City stay second in the league standings with Liverpool one point behind following their league win over Blackburn Rovers.

Premier League u18
1 Manchester United FC Manchester United Man United 16 14 2 0 50 14 36 44 WWWDD
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 15 11 1 3 46 16 30 34 WLWWW
3 Liverpool FC Liverpool Liverpool 16 9 0 7 42 32 10 27 WLLWL
Last updated: 21 February 2024

WHAT’S NEXT

Wilkinson’s side have a quick turnaround before our next fixture.

City Under-18s return with FA Youth Cup action as we welcome Reading to the Joie Stadium on Wednesday 14 February, with the fifth round clash scheduled for 19:00 (UK) kick-off.