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Late, late Youth Cup heartbreak for Under-18s at City

Man City 2-1 Spurs (FA Youth Cup)

Sat 24 February 2024, 14:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our FA Youth Cup campaign came to a heartbreaking end on Saturday afternoon as two goals in the final six minutes at the Joie Stadum saw our Under-18s fall 2-1 to Manchester City in the quarter-finals.

Facing a City side who are flying high in the Northern Under-18 Premier League, we dealt well with the considerable threat posed by their electric frontline before a strong start to the second half saw us take a deserved lead through Tyrese Hall on 61 minutes.

The Citizens rung the changes and turned the screw after that though as they looked to get back into the game and did so on 84 minutes as substitute Luca Fletcher turned in from close range. Then in the 90th minute of the game, a free-kick from the edge our area was dispatched impeccably by Jacob Wright to send our hosts through to the competition's final four.

City started the brighter of the two sides, penning us into our own half for much of the opening 10 minutes, but we grew into the game before seeing efforts by Hall and Leo Black blocked while Yusuf Akhamrich skewed over from range. Our hosts enjoyed the first clear opening on 21 minutes though as Emilio Lawrence skipped into the area but Carey Bloedorn got down well to make the save.

After that effort, they began to dominate the first-half proceedings and should have taken the lead on 33 minutes as Farid Alfa-Ruprecht skipped down the right, beat Akhamrich before drilling the ball along the goal line where it was met by Justin Oboavwoduo. It looked for all the world that the forward would convert but he sent the ball wide of the mark. Minutes later, Lawrence created a similar opening for Alfa-Ruprecht from the other channel, but it somehow evaded all in the box before both Stephen Mfuni and Jahmai Simpson-Pusey stung the palms of Bloedorn.

However, despite all of the Citizens’ apparent dominance of the game, we could have easily broken the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as Ellis Lehane crashed a header off the post. We then had another great opportunity to take the lead just four minutes into the second half but Oliver Irow couldn’t make the most of his effort from inside the box after Lehane’s cross had found it’s way to him. Hall then delivered our first effort on target of the game as he drilled a free-kick straight at City goalkeeper True Grant.

Chances continued to come for us as our momentum built and there was a gilt-edged opportunity for us on the hour mark as, after Akhamrich had drawn a save from Grant at range, the ball fell to Callum Olusesi but, at a tight angle, his effort rolled wide of the far post. We didn’t have to wait much longer for our opener though as little more than a minute later, Damola Ajayi played in Hall and he slipped into the box before firing back across the keeper and into the near corner of the net.

Having fallen behind, City stepped up in their intensity as they looked to get back on terms and they began to create a number of opportunities. First, Jaden Heskey drew a superb save out of Bloedorn as he drilled one from 16 yards before Joel Ndala curled just wide of the far post with a free-kick on 73 minutes.

While our hosts had certainly grown back into the game, we had the chance to seal a place in the semi-finals on 80 minutes as good hold-up play from Ajayi allowed us to charge forward on the counter but, once into the area, Han Willhoft-King saw his strike saved by Grant. That was an opportunity we were left to rue four minutes later as the Citizens got themselves level with Fletcher reacting quickest to dispatch a rebound after Bloedorn had initially done well to deny Christian Dunbar-McDonald's curler. That goal further increased the home side's momentum and, after being awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, Wright whipped the ball into the far right-hand corner of the net to see his side into the last four.

Man City 2-1 Spurs (FA Youth Cup)

Manchester City: Grant, Henderson-Hall, Noble, Simpson-Pusey (c), Mfuni, Wright, Alfa-Ruprecht (Fletcher 76), Heskey, Oboavwoduo (Warhurst 46), Ndala, Lawrence (Dunbar-McDonald 76). Substitutes (not used): Spike Brits, Naylor, Fapetu, Batty.

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black, Akhamrich, King, Chaplin (c), Hall, Ajayi, Willhoft-King, Lehane (Adewole 59), Olusesi, Irow. Substitutes (not used): Archer, Logan, Morgan, Egan-Riley, Byrne, Arganese-McDermott.

Match data

Goals: Manchester City - Fletcher 84, Wright 90; Spurs - Hall 62.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Akhamrich 43, Willhoft-King 79, Bloedorn 83.

Referee: Andrew Humphries.

Venue: Joie Stadium, Manchester.

Weather: Mostly sunny, six degrees.