A highly impressive Manchester City knock Alex out at Quarter-Final stage
Crewe Alexandra’s impressive run in the FA Youth Cup came to an end at the quarter-final stage this evening against a very impressive Manchester City side. Alex Morris’s youngsters were beaten 6-1 at their Academy Stadium or ‘mini-Etihad Stadium’ as it is becoming known. Manchester City were just too good on the night despite Crewe's work ethic and determination to make it a contest.
Crewe’s Under-18s took the lead after just eight minutes when Tom Lowery unleashed an unstoppable shot past Christian Kjetil Haug but that advantage only seemed to spur Manchester City into another gear.
City were highly impressive on the night with winger Brandon Barker scoring twice, Denzeil Boadu, Aaron Nemane, Bersant Celina and Thierry Ambrose were also on the scoresheet as they simply ran away with the tie.
Crewe did struggle to conjure up some decent chances with Joe Kearns presented with a chance at 3-1 and George Cooper having a couple of half chances on goal.
Manchester City were presented with the first genuine chance after just two minutes when Denzeil Boadu was upended 25 yards from the Crewe goal, but Bersant Celina could only guide his curling shot just over the crossbar.
Moments later, forward Andre Brown had to be on defensive duty inside his own six-yard box to guide the ball back to goalkeeper Liam Matthews.
Crewe’s first venture into the Manchester City half of the pitch saw Liam O’Neill latch onto a searching pass from George Cooper but the tricky winger couldn’t quite return the pass into the strikers, who had all pulled out of the six yard box.
unleashed an unstoppable shot past Christian Kjetil Haug. It was a wonderful strike from the midfielder. the diminutive Tom Lowery The Crewe youngsters’ then played some sublime one touch stuff to carry the ball into the Manchester City half of the pitch and after Brown had run into the right hand channel, the ball was fed across the 18 yard box where
City had certainly enjoyed the lions’ share of the possession in the early exchanges and after Matthews had made a stunning save to deny Brandon Barker from another free-kick from the edge of the box, the home side unlocked the Alex defence on 12 minutes.
A flowing passing move down the Crewe left hand side involving Barker and the flying Angelino, allowed him to pick out the onrushing Aaron Nemane and he made no mistake from close range to cancel out Crewe’s opener.
Four minutes later, City took the lead with another well worked move across the Crewe back line. Nemane found the supportive Celina and he poked the ball through to the impressive winger Barker and he drilled it accurately and into the opposite corner of Matthews’ goal. It was a really confident finish from the winger and City had quickly turned the game around.
From another free-kick situation, Cooper chose to lay the ball back for Ollie Finney to strike but his powerful shot was into a well constructed City wall.
Just before the half an hour mark, the powerful Denzeil Boadu fed the attack minded Celina through on goal but Matthews did really well to stand up long enough to save with his legs.
A minute later, Cooper sprung from midfield and as O’Neill’s ran off as a decoy, the Alex number 10 shot wide of the target. A good spell from the Alex saw them pressurise City into some loose passing and that resulted in Callum Ainley having a shot deflected wide and then Cooper fired straight at Kjetil Haug.
With the Premier League side turning up the pressure once again, Thierry Ambrose could only head straight into the gloves of the Alex stopper. At the other end, Crewe captain Joe Kearns did well to hold up City’s danger man Barker and force him wide enough to allow him only to shoot wide.
As the half entered stoppage time, Crewe were grateful to go into the interval at 2-1 after another swift break from the home side saw the excellent Barker cut it from the left and clip the top of the crossbar.
A wicked deflection from Ambrose nearly dropped in at the far post to give Matthews no chance as the home side tried to increase their lead in the opening minute of the second half.
Four minutes into the second half and City found that all important third goal. Kearns could only flick a deep cross into the path of Barker and his instant pass into Boadu, gave him enough time and space to dispatch his shot past a helpless Matthews.
Boadu was booked for a foul on Cooper close to the touchline and from the resulting free-kick, Crewe nearly discovered a passage back into the game. O’Neill’s free-kick was not dealt with comfortably by the rushing Manchester City goalkeeper and Kearns couldn’t quite generate enough power to trouble the Norwegian. If Kearns had applied enough direction on it, it would have given the City goalkeeper no chance.
On 56 minutes, Charlie Kirk replaced Ainley. Barker then whistled a free-kick over the bar from 25 yards out.
To their credit, the Crewe youngsters continued to try and play their football and some of the passing was really crisp and forward thinking on a wonderful playing surface at the Academy Stadium.
Crewe’s second change saw Harry Pickering replace Finney. The schoolboy slipped into central midfield and had to keep an eye on the influential Celina, who forced Matthews into another save as Crewe tried to hang in the game.
On 65 minutes, the rapid Barker latched onto a flick on to leave Kearns in his wake and he calmly slotted it past Matthews for 4-1.
City rested Barker for the final 20 minutes and he was replaced by Paolo Fernandes. Crewe’s final change saw Michael Pino replace Matty Neal on 73 minutes.
Bodu also made way for Manuel Garcia with the clock ticking away. Matthews did well again to rush from his goal and save from Nemane and Fernandes fired wastefully over the crossbar in the follow up.
The excellent Celina then forced Matthews into a super save onto his crossbar with a long range effort before he scored the goal his consistent performance had deserved. Celina went on a brilliant solo run to finish on 83 minutes and Ambrose completed the scoring three minutes later when Matthews had again initially pulled off a great save to deny substitute Fernandes. The Alex goalkeeper didn’t deserve to see the ball not cleared and the ball was rolled over to Ambrose, who slotted high into the net for 6-1.
Matthews was also called upon to save twice more in the dying seconds as Manchester City went in search of even more goals. A really good turn out of 1,416 was at the Academy Stadium and the Crewe fans supported the lads right to the end.