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REPORT: Manchester City U18s 1 Burnley U18s 0

Brave Burnley bow out as FA Youth Cup run ends at quarter-final stage

4 March 2020

The Clarets’ superb FA Youth Cup run ended at the quarter-final stage as Manchester City avoided an upset to keep alive their hopes of an elusive win in the competition.

Despite reaching the final four times in the last five years, City haven’t won the trophy since current Clarets’ captain Ben Mee lifted the silverware in 2008.

Mee was at the Etihad Academy Stadium – alongside Burnley team-mate Ashley Westwood and first-team staff members – to see if the wait would go on as Tony Philliskirk’s side looked to spring a surprise and take the Clarets to the last four for the first time since 2012.

But after getting past Curzon Ashton, Mansfield Town and West Bromwich Albion, this proved just a step too far as big-spending City, who are romping away with the U18 Premier League’s northern division on the back of just two defeats all season, eased their way through thanks to a second-half winner from Liam Delap.

Team huddle.jpg

They will now face a trip to Arsenal or Blackburn Rovers but knew they had been in a game as Burnley battled all the way without quite finding a way to bridge the gap.

The Clarets were dealt an early blow when winger Rhys Fenlon – a key figure in their run to the last eight – picked up an early knock and had to be replaced inside the opening five minutes.

And predictably City did pose a threat when they worked the ball around the edge of Burnley’s penalty area.

But some disciplined defending limited the hosts to just half-chances in the opening half hour, bar an opportunity for Delap – son of ex-Southampton and Stoke City stalwart Rory – who failed to make contact with a cross in front of goal.

City goal.jpg

City included two players with senior starts to their name in skipper Thomas Doyle and central defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis.

But where the senior side have perfected passing the ball out from the back, a couple of early mis-cues from the youngsters gave the Clarets sights of goal they couldn’t capitalise on.

Possession was in short supply for the Clarets but they achieved their first task of reaching the break still in the contest with goalkeeper Harry Allen tested for the first time with a save from Dutch winger Jayden Baaf at the end of a mazy run and a stop to keep out a long-range effort from Doyle.

Burnley then started the second half in encouraging style as they briefly pushed City back before last season’s losing finalists missed their best chance yet as Doyle scuffed a shot before Delap was off-side as he picked up the pieces to slot the ball home with almost an hour gone.

The pressure was beginning to build, though, and City finally made the breakthrough in the 64th-minute.

For the first time the Clarets’ back line was caught out of position as Edon Prutin – excellent alongside Jake Rooney in the centre of the Clarets’ defence – tried to win the ball on half way.

Allen save.jpg

And when Morgan Rogers was released to square the ball to Delap, the City striker this time stayed on-side – just – to convert the chance and make it 1-0.  

City coach and former Clarets striker Gareth Taylor had bemoaned his side’s lack of a killer instinct in getting past Aston Villa and Fulham by just a single goal in each of the last two rounds.

And Braaf went close to heeding the words of warning moments later with an angled drive Allen beat away.

Philliskirk responded with a double change as Michael Mellon, being watched by his father and former Burnley midfielder Micky, and Corey Brennan, a scorer in the fifth-round win over West Brom, were sent on to try and help find an equaliser.

There was a sniff of a chance when George almost punished another mix-up at the back with an effort that went just wide.

Allen kept the Clarets in the hunt with a smart save from Rogers at the other end but despite a late flurry from the visitors there was to be no late drama and the prospect of extra-time to keep Burnley’s dream alive.

Manchester City: Slicker; Diounkou, McDonald, Harwood-Bellis, Wilson-Esbrand; Hodge; Braaf, Doyle, Palmer (McAtee 84), Rogers; Delap (Knight 84). Substitutes: Robinson, McNamara, Burns, Egan-Riley, Edozie.

Burnley: Allen; Patterson, Pruti, Rooney, Rain; Fenlon (George 4), Woods, Moonan (Brennan 73), Conn-Clarke; Thompson, McGlynn (Mellon 73). Substitutes: Thomas, Carson, Connolly, Armstrong.

Referee: Lewis Smith

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