Donnelly 60mins, Dembele 81mins, 83mins
- Match reports
- 19 February 2014 20:58
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
City u18s bowed out of the FA Youth Cup at the fifth round stage after going down to a strong Fulham side on a chilly evening at Boundary Park.
Thierry Ambrose scored his 16th goal of the campaign, but it proved mere consolation for the boy Blues, who were defeated 3-1 to end this year’s run in a competition they last won in 2008.
With a place in the quarter finals at stake, both sides came into the match looking to continue their pursuit of league and cup glory. This tie had pitted City, top of the u18 Premier League North Division against the leaders of the Southern section, and the Blues were keen to avenge the league defeat sustained in West London last September.
Marcos Lopes remains eligible for the Youth Cup, but Jason Wilcox resisted the temptation to call on the services of the Portuguese, and instead kept faith with the young squad that defeated Doncaster and Hereford United.
Wilcox made just two changes from the side that downed the Bulls, with Billy O’Brien coming in for Angus Gunn in goal and Olivier Ntcham replacing Nathaniel Oseni. Ashley Smith-Brown moved to centre-back to partner Mathias Bossaerts, while Kean Bryan and Jack Byrne supported Ntcham in the middle of the park.
City took a few minutes to settle into the rhythm of the match, and it was the visitors who had the first real chance inside four minutes. A dangerous free kick was diverted behind for a corner and the Blues failed to clear, but Cameron Burgess misdirected his header over the bar.
The Blues enjoyed a few forays into their opponents’ penalty area themselves, with Bossaerts heading just wide of the target, while Jorge Intima made good progress down the right but was crowded out in the box.
Marek Rodak in the Fulham goal did brilliantly to make a double save and deny Ambrose from opening the scoring after 20 minutes, while Bossaerts put in a perfectly-timed tackle on Patrick Roberts at the other end.
Real chances were at a premium, and O’Brien was equal to Fulham’s best effort ten minutes before the break, diving at full stretch to push away another Burgess header which was heading for the corner of the net.
The visitors continued to probe, and only a crunching tackle from Smith-Brown prevented Moussa Dembele from shooting with just the goalkeeper to beat, after the striker’s run had taken him straight past the challenge of Bossaerts.
"Fulham finished the half the stronger, with Bryan limited to trying his luck from 30 yards out to no avail, but City defended strongly and were deservedly level at the break."
...City u18s 1 Fulham 3...
The Cottagers had the ball in the net within a minute of the restart, but the linesman’s flag had long since gone up against Solomon Sambou, who was adjudged to have strayed offside after interchanging passes with Roberts.
Both sides were putting some good moves together but struggling in the final third, and Intima came closest to opening the scoring for the Blues after a series of corners, but his effort at the near post was somehow scrambled away.
But it was the visitors who struck first, centre back Liam Donnelly rising the highest to head home a powerful corner from Dean O’Halloran.
The boy Blues refused to let their heads drop, and put in plenty of crunching tackles as they strived to win the ball and get into promising positions.
Olivier Ntcham has another shot diverted just wide of Rodak’s post, before eventually the pressure paid off and Ambrose headed home from Angelino’s cross for his fourth goal in three FA Youth Cup games.
City enjoyed the majority of possession and territory in the minutes after the goal, but were hit on the break by a sucker punch. Roberts ran the length of the field on the right wing, riding several challenges and eventually crossed low into the box to find the lurking Dembele, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Fulham made the game safe just two minutes later when Dembele added his second and the Cottagers’ third, again converting from the six yard box from Dean O’Halloran’s cross this time.
City have proven on a number of occasions this term they do not know when they are beaten, and continued to force their way forward even as the seconds ticked away, but they were unable to fashion any real chances, and Fulham were able to see out the game in relative ease.
The Blues will be aiming to bounce back when they host Blackburn in the league on Saturday.