City’s brave youngsters were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the third-round stage by West Brom at the Hawthorns this evening.
The Imps showed plenty of courage and heart but ultimately the experience and quality of their hosts shone through as the Baggies ran out comfortable winners. Jamie Soule netted a brace for the Baggies either side of a strike from Finn Azaz before Jordan Adebayo-Smith pulled one back for City, but Morgan Rogers quashed any hopes of a fightback scoring a fourth for the hosts. Azaz rounded out the scoring a fifth for West Brom from the penalty spot.
City got the game underway under the floodlights at The Hawthorns backed by a number of supporters who made the trip over from Lincolnshire and they were making themselves heard right from the kickoff.
The home side were confident in possession and opened the scoring early on, Morgan Rogers showed pace and skill down the right flank to fashion an opportunity to cross, his low ball across the box was met by Jamie Soule who sidefooted home from close range.
The Imps didn’t dwell on the early disappointment of conceding and looked for an opportunity on the break, with Jordan Adebayo-Smith doing his best to hold play up and bring his teammates into play in the opposing half. Charlie West did very well at left back to avoid the attentions of Rogers, clipped the ball into the feet of Ellis Chapman who in turn looked for Adebayo-Smith using his pace in the left channel but the avenue to goal was just blocked off. If there were any nerves initially they disappeared as City were growing in confidence, highlighted by Matty White coming off his line to pluck the ball out of the air, off the head of Soules who was haring into the box to try and net his second of the game from a right-wing cross.
The Imps were having their best spell of the first half with twenty minutes or so on the clock, City were pressing higher and limiting West Brom into attacks on the break and Rogers was again the creator, crossing again for Sourne to blast a shot just off target. Gianluca Bucci was Johnny on the spot for City as Rogers looked to have found some space at the back post and it seemed that the Baggies’ number 11 would get his shot away but The Imps number five had other ideas as he slid in to make a vital block at the last.
City were pressing for the equaliser, first Bucci and Kyle Watkins caused panic in the West Brom box following a free kick for City after a foul on Tim Akinola, the ball bobbled around with Adebayo-Smith in the thick of the action but he couldn’t find Elliott Sartorius in space as the hosts hacked clear. Moments later Sartorius danced his way past three Baggies’ defenders and got his shot away but it cannoned off Taylor Gardner-Hickman. Duncan Idehen was to cut short an attempt by Rogers to break clear right in front of the City supporters who were off their seats in appreciation for the commitment shown by the fledgling Imps to do all they could to get back into the game.
Rayhaan Tulloch tried to beat White from distance and extend the West Brom lead, but City’s ‘keeper showed great agility to save, diving to his left and palming out the goalbound effort as half time approached.
With just three minutes to the break, The Imps had a real chance to equalise. Sartorius made a determined run down the left taking two men with him, after initially looking like he’d lost possession the City man somehow prodded the ball into the danger area where Adebayo-Smith held off his marker to take a touch, swivel and fire but unfortunately it curled just over the crossbar with Josh Griffiths in the West Brom goal well beaten.
West Brom 1 The Imps 0
The Baggies started the second half quickly winning two set pieces. City however, continued to show steely determination to halt the charge of their hosts, the first opportunity was a free kick around 25 yards out which was hammered into the wall that deflected for a corner, the resulting flag kick was also defended stoutly by The Imps with Watkins bravely blocking a shot coming in from Soule deep inside the City box.
With ten minutes gone of the second half The Imps won a corner right in front of the travelling contingent of supporters, Chapman swung the ball into the danger area but there was an infringement seen by the referee. However, just as the away side began to again grow in confidence the hosts hit a hammer blow by breaking quickly and netting a second goal, White saved low from Soule but the ball rebounded across to Finn Azaz and the Baggies’ striker smashed home the rebound despite the best attempts of Josh Woodcock to stop it on the line.
The home side began to really assert themselves on proceedings and they were to score a third goal, Tulloch drove down the right flank using his pace to create space to cross and at the back post was Soule to net his second of the game.
City still were looking to make their mark on the game despite things seemingly getting out of their grasp, Chapman linking well with West and the latter clipped in a dangerous cross that took a deflection which crucially took it away from City and into the arms of Griffiths. The Imps were to get themselves on the scoresheet with just over 20 minutes remaining, Adebayo-Smith running onto a curled through ball, leaving three Baggies’ defenders in his wake before looking up to calmly slot under Griffiths into the net.
Three minutes later the hosts were to net a fourth goal with a fantastic exhibition of pace and trickery from Rogers, the England Under 17 international took things into his own hands outside the box and danced his way into the area before finishing cooly with the outside of his right foot beyond White. Azaz netted a fifth for the hosts from the penalty spot with ten minutes remaining.
West Brom 5 The Imps 1
1 Josh GRIFFITHS
2 Taylor GARDNER-HICKMAN
3 George HARMON
4 Peter TAYLOR
5 Tom SHARPE
6 Nathan FERGUSON
7 Rayhaan TULLOCH
8 Zak BROWN
9 Jamie SOULE
10 Finn AZAZ
11 Morgan ROGERS
12 Stanley ASOMUGHA (85’ for Harmon)
13 Ted CANN
14 Louie BARRY (79’ for Tulloch)
15 Zak DELANEY (14’ for Sharpe)
16 Toby KING
GOAL: Soule 4’,65’, Azaz 57’ 80’ (pen), Rogers 72’
1 Matty WHITE
2 Joshua WOODCOCK
3 Charlie WEST
4 Duncan IDEHEN
5 Gianluca BUCCI
6 Kyle WATKINS
7 Tim AKINOLA
8 Ellis CHAPMAN
9 Jordan ADEBAYO-SMITH
10 Elliott SARTORIUS
11 Tobias LIVERSIDGE
12 Joshua BURNS (86’ for Watkins)
13 Ross WOOLEY
14 Ryan FLITTON
15 Niall PARSONS
16 Max GEE (77’ for Bucci)
Booked: Akinola 49’
GOAL: Adebayo-Smith 69’
Referee: Andrew Genders
Assistants: Daniel Stokes & Jonathan Price
4th Official: Joshua Hackett