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Academy

FAYC report: Rovers Under-18s 0-4 Manchester City Under-18s

Rovers' FA Youth Cup journey comes to an end at the semi-final stage of the competition against the Cityzens

30 October 2020

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Rovers' FA Youth Cup journey came to an end at the semi-finals stage of the competition as Manchester City earned a comprehensive victory at St George's Park.

All the goals came in the second half for Carlos Vicens' side, with the final three strikes arriving in a frantic five minute spell late in the final 15 minutes.

An even first 45 minutes saw the sides go in all square before Joe Hodge opened the scoring just before the hour mark with a strike that Jordan Eastham did get a touch to but couldn't prevent.

After Liam Delap doubled the advantage with 11 minutes remaining, a couple of shaky moments at the back led to a quickfire third and fourth goals for City via the impressive James McAtee and substitute Jayden Braaf.

The result maybe flattered City, with Rovers' best chances coming from Luke Brennan's header and Sam Burns' powerful late attempt that stung the palms of James Trafford in goal.

The result sees Rovers bow out of the competition, but the youngsters will be able to look back on a run with plenty of memories, particularly the 4-1 win over Arsenal in the quarter-finals at Ewood Park.

Mike Sheron made four alterations to the side that started against the Gunners in the last round seven months ago, with Jake Garrett, Lenni Cirino, Sam Durrant and Brandon Lonsdale all starting the encounter.

Burns, Brennan and Dan Pike were all back with the Under-18s despite moving up to the Under-23s full time in the summer, with the trio given special dispensation to feature having been part of the squads for the previous games in the competition.

For City, they included the highly-rated Delap up front, whilst Taylor Harwood-Bellis skippered the side at St George's Park.

The first opportunity came the way of the Cityzens, with Eastham pulling off a fine double save to deny Cole Palmer and then Morgan Rogers just five minutes into the encounter.

Soon after and Ben Knight unleased an effort from range that was comfortably held by Eastham, before the Rovers stopper had to dive low to his right to prevent Rogers' drive from finding the bottom corner as City looked for an early opener.

Rovers were more than holding their own, but it was City who were having the shots, with Eastham again well positioned to beat away Cole Palmer's shot after the winger cut in from the right flank midway through the half.

There were only five minutes of the half remaining when Rogers curled wide of Eastham's left-hand post as the opener remained elusive in Staffordshire.

Rovers were growing as the half was going on though, and after Garrett tangled with an opponent in the box, referee Ross Joyce waved away claims for a spot kick for Sheron's side.

The sides went into the interval all square, but City came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half, with the dangerous Rogers' seeing his curled strike fly past Eastham's post just a couple of minutes after the break.

However, City weren't to be denied and made no mistake with the next opportunity as Hodge let fly from the edge of the box, with Eastham not getting enough on the strike to prevent it from kissing the post and nestling into the net just before the hour mark.

Rovers recovered from the setback though and should have found the leveller on 65 minutes, but Brennan headed over from close range after Durrant's outstanding delivery from the right picked the winger out at the back post.

Sheron's side had to get more adventurous with 20 minutes remaining, and Brennan slalomed his way through a couple of challenges before hitting wide from 18 yards in a chance that would come back to haunt Rovers soon after.

That was because City's second goal arrived with 11 minutes left, with a one-two involving Hodge and Palmer seeing the latter's cross tucked home by Delap from a couple of yards out.

A mix up at the back led to a third of the night for City just two minutes later, with McAtee prodding home from close range, before substitute Braaf capitalised on more over-playing in the Rovers box to cement their spot in the final of the competition.

There was to be a late chance for Rovers to get what would have been a late consolation, but Burns' lethal strike was kept at bay by Trafford to preserve City's clean sheet and book their spot in the final on Monday night at the same venue.

For Rovers, their attentions return to the Under-18s Premier League, with Sunderland the visitors to Brockhall on Saturday 7th November, kick-off 1pm.

Rovers Under-18s: Eastham, Pike, Cirino, Whitehall (c), Garrett, Saadi, Durrant (Connolly, 79), Harlock (Pleavin, 84), Burns, Lonsdale (Baker, 68), Brennan.

Unused substitutes: Callaghan, Wood, Wyatt, Weston.

Booked: Pike, 41, Saadi, 85, Connolly, 90, Cirino, 90.

Manchester City Under-18s: Trafford, Egan-Riley, Harwood-Bellis (c), Mbete-Tabu, Diounkou, Hodge, Palmer (Braaf, 79), Knight (Robertson, 72), Delap, McAtee (Bobb, 87), Rogers.

Unused substitutes: Burns, Slicker, Oduroh, Gyabi.

Goals: Hodge, 56, Delap, 79, McAtee, 81, Braaf, 84

Booked: McAtee, 57, Knight, 72, Braaf, 90, Delap, 90.

Referee: Ross Joyce.


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