Manchester City’s Under-18s have advanced to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup after an energetic 2-0 win over Watford.

After a strong start from City, Matty Warhurst broke the deadlock in the 15th minute when a Watford clearance rebounded off him and into the net.

Jaden Heskey doubled City’s lead early in the second half with a smart finish from inside the six-yard box.

Despite Watford’s best efforts to find a way back into the tie, our strong defensive line held firm for a clean sheet to secure a place in the fourth round.  


A chilly Vicarage Road played host to City’s first outing in the competition in the 2023/24 season and in front of a vocal Hornets’ crowd that totalled just over 1,000 spectators.

City controlled the opening 10 minutes, and Warhurst almost fired us ahead with a volley while Laykle Samuel was inches away from connecting with a diving header when he found space at the backpost after a well-worked set-piece saw him almost picked out by Charlie Gray.

But it was City’s number nine who was credited with the opener although it came in slightly fortunate circumstances.  Josh Mullins misplaced clearance crashed into him and straight into the back of the net.

Ben Wilkinson’s side continued to pile on the pressure with entertaining and clinical football.

Quick footwork from Farid Alfa-Ruprecht and Divine Mukasa opened up the home side to allow Emiliano Lawrence a strike on goal before the ball was collected by Watford keeper Gabriel Ortelli.

On the brink of half-time Warhurst was handed the opportunity by Heskey to net his second of the game but a scuffed shot rolled wide of Watford’s goal.

The Hornets grew into the game as the half wore on, but Tom Cleverley’s side failed to test City keeper True Grant in the first half.

It was a warning that the tie wasn’t over and we gave ourselves some breathing space shortly after the restart when Heskey was deadly from close range to double City’s lead.

Warhurst almost pulled off a spectacular goal near the hour mark when he escaped his marker after juggling the ball, but his shot drifted over the bar.

We went even closer to a third shortly after when Mukasa’s thumping strike rattled the left post with the keeper beaten.

Watford tried to find a way back into the game but substitute Kash Odiase rose highest to head a free-kick towards goal but his effort was comfortably collected by Grant.

As the hosts continued to push for a goal, City were a threat on the counter-attack and substitute Christian Dunbar-McDonald fired a shot inches wide of the right post six minutes before the final whistle.

But City got the job done to secure a place in the fourth round and another tough away trip when we travel to West Ham.


Grant, who returned from his first-team travels to Red Star Belgrade, started in goal with Ezra Carrington, Jahmai Simpson-Pusey, Samuel and Stephen Mfuni forming the backline.

In City’s engine room, Gray played centrally and covered City’s defensive line with Heskey operated slightly higher and to the right while Mukasa did the same towards the left flank.

In City’s attacking line,  Alfa-Ruprecht was on the right side while Lawrence was positioned on the opposite wing with Warhurst in his favoured number nine position.

WATFORD XI: Ortelli, Eames, Vancea (Wachowicz 77), Ramirez-Espain, Mullins (C), Casey, Adu-Poku, Sanghrajka, Lawson (Massiah-Edwards 61), Sikiru, Nabizada (Odiase 61).

UNUSED SUBS: Morris, Sala, Bolding, Shevchenko.

CITY XI: Grant, Carrington, Simpson-Pusey, Samuel (C), Mfuni, Gray, Alfa-Ruprecht (Dunbar-McDonald 83), Heskey, Warhurst (Harrison 85), Mukasa, Lawrence (Muir 61).

UNUSED SUBS: Wint, Okeke, Parker.


City advance to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup for another season. 

We travel to West Ham on Friday 12 January for a 19:00 (UK) kick-off.


City’s youngsters have a brief break from football over the festive period.

Wilkinson’s side return to league action on Saturday 6 January 2024 when we welcome Stoke City to the CFA for an 11:30 (UK) kick-off.

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