Manchopper in….Burnley (u18)

Result: Burnley u18 0-2 Manchester Utd u18 (FA Youth Cup Third Round)

Venue: Turf Moor (Monday 16th December 2013,7.00pm)

Att: 1,489

Just a quick blog this one, as I am saving the majority of the history and ground details for when I revisit to watch the First Team, so you will be let off with these for now!

The beginning of my trip to get to Burnley was horrendous! Leaving immediately from work,  I made it into Manchester City Centre in time for the X43 service to Burnley. However, as I disembarked the 263, I saw it pulling away in the distance. My trip was up in smoke, and I decided to make my way to the bus stop for the way home, when I saw another X43 destined for Nelson. Good stuff! Got to the bus stop, only for the number not to feature, and the bus to drive past. Now,  when I get p’d off I get very stubborn, & thought to myself ‘I’m gonna catch you’. So, I chased the horrible ‘Witch Way’ down from Portland Street to Strangeways and beat it! Boom! So, after boarding the thing as a sweaty mess (apologies to my fellow passengers, I was on my way for the hours journey into Lancashire.

After an uneventful (bar for some twitter banter) trip, I disembarked at Burnley’s smart bus station, and thought it would be either visible easily, or signposted. It was neither, and with little in terms of fans walking, it was a little lucky that I figured out the way to go, and saw the ‘Bob Lord Stand’ protruding out into view from under a bridge. So, after a few photo opportunities and queuing outside the turnstiles, due to the high volume of fans taking the club somewhat by surprise, I paid my dues at the turnstiles (£3) and entered Turf Moor for the very first time. Ground 95!

Rushing through, and up a flight of steps, I turned expecting a decent crowd, interspersed with a number of empty seats. I was wrong. It was packed!! The Bob Lord Stand, which was the  only stand in use tonight, was close to a sell out, which was a good sight for a Youth Team game, and a good experience I’m sure for the up & coming players on the pitch. Turf Moor needs little description, as it will be familiar to most from its time in the Premiership. 4-all seater stands, two with modern blue & claret seats, two with old wooden flip-up seats, including the stand in use tonight, which was a neat experience.

As I took my seat, at the end of a row, I quickly changed to some a little more deserted, which is more to my liking, but they weren’t to remain that way as the crowd continued to stream in at a healthy rate. I eventually settled to set eyes on the early skirmishes, of which Burnley dominated, and looked the more likely to grab the opener. A well-rehearsed corner allowed ex-United man Luke Daly to unleash a strike from 18-yards, only to be denied by United’s Josh Harrop on the goal-line. A minute later saw Joel Pereira in the Red Devils’ goal pull off a good save to deny Jamie Frost.

The pace of Clarets’ wingers Bradley Jackson (ex-Wilmslow Town) & Christian Hill, another of the ex-Reds, were a constant threat to United, however the Reds’ who were all in white (this could become misleading!), were keeping them at bay just about, but they were still being done down the right, and the best chance of the half came that way when Jackson fed Ulsterman Cameron Dummingan, who in turn played in the wonderfully named Khius Metz, who fired, not so wonderfully, clean over. This proved to be the last action of the half of note, and Burnley went in much the happier of the two, and United happy to go in still level, in front of the almost 1,500 in attendance.

At half-time, I decided a pie was in order, but just as I got to the counter, someone got the last one. Grrrr. A hot-dog was the back-up option, and a damn good one it was too! A good size one for the price £1.50, and it was devoured as quickly as it was served.

Second half, I retook my seat, and it began in the same vain as the first period, with Burnley on the front foot, Australian Kevin Ly played a good one-two with Metz and forced young Portuguese Pereira into another good stop, and from the resulting clearance, midfielder Alex Whitmore attempted to catch out the Reds stopper from all of 40-yards, but Pereira was alert and grabbed the ball before it posed too much of a threat. Jamie Frost then fired narrowly wide when well placed 12-yards out but, against the run of play, United’s Saidy Janko, who is tipped as a star of the future, received the ball and played a simple ball into Belgian Andreas Pereira, who made space for himself, and from the angle of the right hand side of the area, fired an unstoppable shot into the far top right-hand corner, past the despairing, full stretch dive of Burnley’s Northern Irish custodian Conor Mitchell to give the 10-time winners the advantage.

It was a wonderful strike, which earned the youngster pantomime boos from the crowd in attendance, and it was equalled if not better just fifteen minutes later, when James Wilson picked the ball up just past half-way and strode on…and on….and on as he left defender after defender in his wake, he then turned on the after-burners, raced clear, rounded the advancing Mitchell, and fired home confidently from a tight angle. What a goal it was!

Burnley had a penalty appeal turned down soon after, as they through everything at United to find a way back into the tie, and brought on another ex-United & City striker Ntumba Massanka, who had his own fan club situated behind the home dugout! They grew even more excited when the pacey forward advanced on goal, but fired wide. Massanka, is clearly popular with the other Burnley supporters too, as he was greeted with cheers every time he got the ball. Pereira then pulled off two wonder saves firstly to deny the impressive Frost as he fired in from close-range after being put through by Massanka, before denying Jackson somehow, when it looked odds-on he’d find the net, charging down the winger’s effort from point-blank range to preserve a well earned clean sheet.

So, the game ended, with United gaining revenge for last year’s defeat to the Clarets at Old Trafford and progressing to the 4th Round where they will visit Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Thursday 16th January at 7pm, and Massanka receiving the acclaim of his rather significant personal fan base. I made my way back along the street leading to the bus station, accompanied by a group of young Burnley fans filling the air with songs, taking their opportunity to take on the mantle usually taken on by their seniors at first team games, clearly!

My Burnley u18 M.o.M.- Jamie Frost

My Manchester United u18 M.o.M.- Joel Pereira

RATINGS:

Game: 7- Decent entertainment throughout.

Ground 8- Character retained, you can feel the history resonating in it.

Fans: 9- Mostly on he basis that so many came out to support their future. Kudos!

Programme: N/A- There was a teamsheet issued, but I failed to get one of them either!

Food: 9- The hot-dog was superb, in taste & size and for the dosh it wasn’t too bad nosh!

Value For Money: 10- £8.50 return on the bus, £3 entrance, and a further £1.50 for food. Can’t moan at that!

Referee: 9- Thought he was good, although it was a good-natured tie in fairness to both teams.

TEAMS:

BURNLEY U18:- 1.Conor Mitchell, 2.Cameron Dummigan, 3.Waqas Azam, 4.Luke Daly, 5.Callum Richardson, 6.Alex Whitmore, 7.Bradley Jackson, 8.Kevin Ly, 9.Khius Metz, 10.Jamie Frost, 11.Christian Hill SUBS; 12.Callum Jakovlevs(GK), 14.Ntumba Massanka(p) 15.Charlie Holt, 16.Nathan Lowe, 17.Evan Galvin

MANCHESTER UNITED U18:- 1.Joel Pereira, 2.Saidy Janko, 3.Ben Barber, 4.Callum Evans, 5.Ryan McConnell, 6.Sean Goss, 7.Josh Harrop, 8.Matthew Willock, 9.James Wilson(c)(1), 10.Andreas Pereira(1), 11.Devonte Redmond SUBS: 12.Dean Henderson(GK), 14.Demetri Mitchell, 15.Ashley Fletcher(p), 16.Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, 17.Marcus Rashford

Referee: Mr. T. Neild

Manchopper In….Walsall

Result: Walsall Youth 4-0 Altrincham Youth (FA Youth Cup 2nd Round)

Walsall Youth Scorers: Brown o.g.(2), Rush (19)(85),  Bakayoko (66)

Venue: The Banks’s Stadium (Thursday 21st November 2013, 7.00pm)

Att: 179

Wednesday afternoon, I see that Altrincham’s Youth side have made it into the second round of the Youth Cup, and are playing away at the Bescot (now Banks’s) Stadium, against their counterparts from Walsall. A third round game at The Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion awaits the winners.

Booking myself on the supporters’ coach, well minibus, I boarded at the Vine Inn and set off on our journey down through Cheshire, before eventually joining the M6 motorway. Whilst on the transport, we were given a message of thanks for supporting the young Robins on, quote, ‘the biggest night in the youth team’s history’, and how grateful the management and players were. Obviously, despite travelling as a neutral, I still wanted to see the local lads do well. A league ground is something of a rarity to me, and the Banks’s became only my fourth venue of such (Old Trafford, DW Stadium & Gigg Lane being the other three), although the latter of the three is a bit of a cheat, as it was to watch FC United rather than Bury so I’m not sure whether or not I can truly count in it as a league ground yet?

Anyway, after we were unloaded at the ground reception someone was given directions that the entrance to the ground was just to the right, near the ‘clubhouse’. Despite these instructions, we ended up going on a lap of the ground, which was decent for me, as I intended to take some photos anyway, but every other member was definitely disgruntled by this. Upon returning to the reception, it was discovered that the turnstile in operation was tucked away, indeed, just to the right of the reception. So, after paying my £5 to the gateman, I was slightly concerned by the lack of teamsheet/programme but I needn’t have worried as soon after I was approached by a lady in a high-vis jacket who proceeded to offer me a teamsheet. A novel use of a steward!!

Happily stocked up  with the teams’ details, and somewhat sheltered from the wind in the main stand, I kept myself occupied for the 40 minutes to wait before the kick-off by watching the Walsall side’s preparations, which included a defensive display where the number 6 proceeded to show what was to come by comfortably booming every header miles! A look around the stadium shows three stands of almost identical size, on both sides of the pitch and behind the (from the main stand) right hand goal, although the main stand is where the boxes and other function areas are situated. Behind the left hand side goal is a two-tiered stand, emblazoned with white seats spelling out ‘WFC’ up at the top of it. It has a capacity of 11,300.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your point of view!), I can’t find any history for the Youthies so onto the game now, and Altrincham’s best hope was to frustrate their opponents for as long as possible. Unfortunately, there was a horrible moment for the Robins’ right-back David Brown just two minutes in, when he left his goalkeeper helpless, as he passed to the left of the advancing Josh Samberg who went to the right, and the ball rolled into the empty net. They doubled their lead after 19 minutes, as Westleigh Rush received the ball on the edge of the area from Bakayoko, who beat his man pulled it back to the attacker, and Rush did the rest firing hard and low past Samberg. Samberg kept his side in the game with a string of saves, helped out along the way by wasteful finishing mainly from Swifts’ top-scorer Amadou Bakayoko. 2-0 at half-time didn’t reflect the Saddlers‘ dominance of the game, with Alty struggling to get the ball at times, and only having 2 attempts at goal.

At half-time, I went looking for some hot refreshments, but got lost in the back of the stand, and decided instead to head for the bar area situated up at the top of the ‘Main Stand’. The bar was more of a function room really, and comfortably coped with the 150+ fans in attendance, with many indulging in an alcoholic beverage of their choice, whilst digesting the 1st half action, and first-team matters.

The players emerged into sight and everyone began to leak out of the glass doors and back into their seats. Would there be a chance for Alty to get back into this tie? Unfortunately for me as a neutral, the answer was no. With skipper Liam Kinsella running the game tidily in the deep-lying midfield role, and Alex Dallison dealing with any threats posed by the Altrincham front pairing of Louis Potts and recent first-team bencher Max Pouncey, Walsall continued to rip apart Altrincham’s backline in a scene not too far removed from the Alamo. Time after time they broke through, but this wasn’t to do with any lack of effort from the Cheshire side, just a large difference in quality, being that it was the first time many of Alty’s players would have played against players at such a level. On the hour, Alty were dealt a scare after Samberg was left prone on the floor after a brave piece of goalkeeping at the feet of Bakayoko. He recovered to play on, which was good to see. However, it was three soon after, as Bakayoko finally found the net from inside the six-yard area, converting a low ball in. The wonderfully named Tevin Shakespeare came on for Bakayoko, and didn’t give the Alty backline a moments rest with his pace and direct play causing many problems , and a fourth was added late on as the impressive, dynamic Rush fired home a free-kick across Samberg and into the far corner. It was a superb strike, that he almost bettered moments later, when he bent a 25 yard effort from out near the right-hand angle of the 18-yard box against the join of post and crossbar. As it was, the referee, who had an impressive game as well to be fair, Matthew Jones blew his whistle moments later, to end the suffering of the visitors, and booked Walsall their trip to the Hawthorns, and a date with The Baggies in the third-round. We boarded the coach soon after, with not too much disappointment in the ranks of the travelling supporters, having already known the task that lay ahead at the beginning of the night, and knowing the young Robins gave their all but it wasn’t enough to get close to the higher-ranked, talented Walsall Youth side.

RATINGS:

Game: 7/10- Good Quality, sadly very one-sided.

Ground: 9- Very smart, and quite modern too.

Fans: 7- Not too many made the effort on a cold Thursday night, but those that did were treated to a good win. A couple did think that every tackle made by an Alty player was a foul though!

Food: N/A- Tried to find some, but got lost, so couldn’t!

Programme: N/A- No programme issued, but a teamsheet was given out.

Value For Money: 10- Can’t complain. All the way to Walsall for £16 on the bus, and just £5 entry to tick off The Banks’s Stadium.

Referee: 9- Had a good game, but had little to do.

My Walsall Youth M.o.M.- Westleigh Rush

My Altrincham Youth M.o.M.- Josh Samberg

TEAMS:

Walsall Yth: 1.Richard Jones, 2.Jamie Ashmore, 3.Rico Henry, 4.Liam Kinsella(c), 5.Alex Christopherou, 6.Alex Dallison, 7.Cameron McKenzie, 8.Luke Delaney, 9.Amadou Bakayoko(1), 10.Westleigh Rush(2), 11.Alex Reid SUBS: 12.Tevin Shakespeare(p), 23.Rhys Lovett, 14.Jordan Garner, 15.Levi Rowley(p), 16.Kyle Rowley(p)

Altrincham Yth: 1.Josh Samberg, 2.David Brown(1o.g.), 3.Matthew Graetzer, 4.Tom Clarke, 5.Derek Ubah, 6.Patrick Crilly, 7.Spencer Cunliffe(c), 8.Matthew Todd, 9.Max Pouncey, 10.Louis Potts, 11.Robert Gilroy SUBS: 14.Kane Hughes(p), 15.Joe Coffey(p), 16.Louis Brown(p), 17.Tom Westall, 18.Stephen Bullen

Officials: Referee: Matthew Jones. Assistants: Scott Simpson, Mark Murfitt 4th Official: Glyn Thomas