Ambrose 1min, 91mins, Celina 104mins
- Match reports
- 14 January 2014 21:32
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
City u18s edged past Hereford United to book their place in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.
The young blues needed extra time to see off the spirited Bulls, but extra time goals from Thierry Ambrose and Bersant Celina finally proved enough to secure victory after the visitors had cancelled out Ambrose’s opener in the dying minutes of normal time.
After easing through the previous round with a comfortable win over Doncaster at Hyde before Christmas, City were in buoyant mood as they welcomed Hereford on a freezing January night.
The Bulls are well-travelled in the FA Youth Cup, having come through five previous ties in which they were drawn as the away team in each round. A dramatic penalty shootout against Bournemouth preceded this trip to Manchester, after overcoming Chesterfield, Atherstone and Stourbridge.
A tasty home encounter with high-flying Tottenham or Fulham awaited the victors of this clash, and City were eager to advance in a competition they last won in 2008.
Although several younger members of Patrick Vieira’s EDS squad are eligible for this competition, Jason Wilcox elected not to call on the talents of the likes of Marcos Lopes, Jose Angel Pozo and Olivier Ntcham, instead keeping faith with the side currently sitting top of the u18 Premier League.
The boss made just two changes from the side that despatched Doncaster so convincingly in the last round of the competition. Spanish right back Pablo Maffeo replaced James Horsfield, and Nathaniel Oseni came in for Tosin Adarabioyo to partner Mathias Bossaerts at the heart of the City defence.
There was a familiar look to the attack which has been terrorising opposition defences all season. The Blues had netted 39 times in the previous 10 matches, and Jorge Intima, Brandon Barker and Ambrose were called upon once again to provide the firepower upfront.
City were in no mood to ease the visitors in gently, and Ambrose chalked up his 11th goal of the campaign inside 30 seconds. The French striker was lurking in the six yard box to poke home Barker’s pinpoint cross from the left to give the Blues the perfect start.
But Hereford refused to be cowed, and might have had an equaliser from the spot within five minutes when Angelino was adjudged to have brought down Jarrod Bowen. Goalkeeper Angus Gunn was the hero for the Blues, pulling off a magnificent save to push Billy Murphy’s kick onto the post and preserve the early lead.
A feisty start showed no signs of abating, with plenty of fierce tackles flying in as both sides attempted to gain influence in the centre of the park. Kean Bryan headed wide from a Jack Byrne cross, while Gunn was called upon once more to tip a powerful free kick over the bar from Cory Williams.
The Blues continued to probe, and Bryan had another chance on the half hour, volleying wide from Intima’s cross, while Angelino’s powerful shot was pushed behind for a corner by Kyle Moore in the Hereford goal.
It was end to end action as the half time whistle approached. Williams was inches away from finding an equaliser, but his acrobatic effort curled just over the bar, while Barker might have doubled City’s lead, but fired just past the top corner after being played through by Angelino.
The game continued in thrilling fashion after the break, and Intima dragged his shot wide after a good run upfield within two minutes of the restart, while Moore was forced to push the ball behind direct from a Jack Byrne corner which was dipping under the crossbar.
City laid siege to the Hereford goal, and Barker was desperately unlucky to see his shot saved by the excellent Moore, after brilliant build up play from Bryan. Substitute Denzeil Boadu was next to test the Bulls’ keeper but he was unable to get any power on the shot.
The game lost some of its spark as the second period progressed, but the substitute Will Haines found an equaliser for the visitors just minutes before full time, bundling home a free kick after Nathaniel Oseni’s foul.
There was a frenetic pace to the concluding minutes of normal time as both teams tried to find a winner before extra time was required and Angus Gunn made an excellent low stop to prevent Hereford netting the deciding goal with the last kick of the 90 minutes.
The boy Blues began extra time in the same way they had opened the match two hours previously. In an almost exact replica of the first goal, Ambrose gave City the lead for the second time, powering home a Brandon Barker cross within the first minute of kick off.
At the other end, Gunn was forced to make an unorthodox save with his face as the Bulls continued to test City’s resolve, and the England youth international keeper also had to be at his best to save when one on one.
City finally put the game to bed after 104 minutes of play when Bersant Celina curled a beautiful strike into the top corner from an indirect free kick in the Hereford penalty box for his third goal in two games.
Hereford continued to press for a goal right up until the final whistle, but City prevailed and the FA Youth cup journey continues into the fifth round.