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Match Reports

YOUTH CUP | TOWN 3 SHEFF UTD 2 AET

30 April 2021

More to follow as young Blues reach final four in dramatic fashion

Town prevailed from a marathon encounter against Sheffield United to set up a clash with Liverpool or Arsenal in the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup.

The young Blues, who have been in the competition since the first round, overcame the Blades 3-2 after extra-time, with the game lasting just shy of three hours.

Injuries to Town 'keeper Antoni Bort and United full-back Beau Anderson saw 30 minutes of additional time played in total of the 90, as a late Elkan Baggott header set up a further 30 minutes of action.

Nico Valentine had fired the hosts in front early in the second half, before Blades netted twice through Will Osula and Andre Brookes.

Then deep into extra-time a Blades own goal sent the Town players and bench into a state of ecstasy.

First-team boss Paul Cook, along with first-team coaches Gary Roberts and Matt Gill, were in attendance.

It was a teasing corner that led to Bort's injury just two minutes in. The 'keeper pushed clear a deep corner but landed awkwardly following a clash of heads and had to make way.

Antoni Bort injury Youth Cup vs Sheffield United (H).jpg

Edwin Agbaje was then presented with a glorious opportunity at the back post after Valentine's effort was blocked, but the full-back fired high and wide with a right-footed strike.

The hosts continued to look dangerous down the right side with Agbaje beating his man before delivering a cross which was claimed by Blades 'keeper Callum Hiddleston at the front post.

Cameron Stewart then produced a stunning block to deny Osula from seven yards out after the United frontman had chested down a cross and got a shot away.

Valentine collected a through ball seven minutes before the break but his effort from the edge of the box was soft as Hiddleston saved comfortably.

Nico Valentine Youth Cup vs Sheffield United (H).jpg

The young Blues continued to create the better chances and in first-half stoppage time went close on two occasions. Albie Armin latched on to a looping ball in the box and hit the crossbar with a right-footed flick from eight yards out, before Gerard Buabo glanced a header wide following a dangerous cross, again from the right side.

Shortly after the restart Town had the lead. Liam Gibbs did well down the left side before picking out Valentine with a cut back. The forward opened his body up and smartly finished under Hiddleston from the middle of the box.

But Sheffield United regrouped and levelled in the 57th minute. Oluwafemi Seriki found Osula with a whipped low cross from the right, and the latter adjusted his shape to find the roof of the net with a left-footed finish.

Just four minutes later Town had four efforts in quick succession but somehow didn't score. Buabo's glancing header bounced off the crossbar with Hiddleston then clawing away Valentine's rebound. Agbaje drilled towards goal but saw his strike hit the near post, with Gibbs blazing over from the edge of the area as United breathed a sigh of relief.

Following a lengthy delay as Anderson received treatment before departing on a stretcher, United went in front. A low cross was cleared by Baggott, but Brookes fired in from the edge of the box and his strike found the bottom corner through a crowd of bodies.

Ola Bello was introduced to the action six minutes from time as he replaced Buabo, who was unlucky not to find the back of the net while on the pitch having hit the woodwork and gone close on a few occasions.

Cameron Stewart Youth Cup vs Sheffield United (H).jpg

Town were then rewarded for their efforts deep into stoppage time after the fourth official had signalled for 14 minutes to be added on. A delightful corner from Cameron Humphreys was met by Baggott as he did brilliantly to divert a header into the top corner, despite Hiddleston's best efforts.

The home side were presented with an opportunity to win it right at the death, but Hiddleston got to his left to push away a well-struck free-kick from Tawanda Chirewa, who had replaced Alfie Cutbush in the 71st minute.

Referee Robert Massey-Ellis then blew his whistle and extra-time was to be played. Both sets of players took on fluids and stretched during a five-minute breather.

And extra-time proved to be just as eventful as the 90. Towards the end of the first half United were reduced to 10 men following Hassan Ayari's high tackle on Humphreys.

Town took the game by the scruff of the neck, but it was the visitors who had the next clear-cut opportunity. A cross to the back post found an unmarked Cullinan on the edge of the six yard box, but he somehow sent the ball away from goal as the Blades bench cheered what they thought would surely be a goal.

Up the other end, with six to play, Hiddleston pushed away Humphreys' low drive.

Three minutes later, Gibbs should have won it for the hosts. Bello pulled the ball back to him with space in the area, and his curling strike was inches wide of Hiddleston's left post.

And with two minutes remaining it was an own goal that proved the decider. Cullinan did his best to turn a low cross away, but his sliced clearance hit the back of the net and all 11 Town players rushed to the corner and celebrated with a mass bundle.

The final whistle saw joyous scenes on the Portman Road pitch, with the young Blues putting in yet another performance to be proud of on what has been a fantastic journey to the final four of the FA Youth Cup.

Fraser Alexander Youth Cup vs Sheffield United (H).jpg

Booked: Agbaje, Stewart, Cullinan, Baggott, Gibbs

Sent off: Ayari

Town: Bort (Ridd 18'), Agbaje, Alexander, Stewart, Baggott, Armin, Valentine (Nwabueze 110'), Cutbush (Chirewa 71'), Buabo (Bello 84'), Gibbs, Humphreys.

Subs: Bradshaw, Osbourne, Manly.

Sheffield United: Hiddleston, Seriki, Anderson (Angell 81'), Arblaster (C) (Smith 103'), Cullinan, L. Williams, Ayari, Maguire, Jebbison (Hackford 90'), Osula (Marsh 105'), Brookes.

Subs: Hampshaw, T. Williams, Lankshear.

Adem Atay Youth Cup vs Sheffield United (H).jpg


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