FA Youth Cup Report | Wanderers 2 Blackpool 0

Lewis celebration

Second-half goals from Conor Lewis and Harrison Fleury took Wanderers into the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a superb win over the Seasiders, writes Pete Oliver.

Julian Darby’s youngsters had previously beaten Blackpool in the Lancashire FA Youth Cup and shared the points in their EFL Youth Alliance meeting earlier this season.

But this was always likely to be a more serious test and the Whites had all the answers in overcoming the reigning North-West league champions with a polished performance at Chorley’s Victory Park.

There was little between the sides in a first half short of chances if not decent football.

Lewis goal

But Wanderers then took control after the break with two goals in eight minutes to effectively clinch the tie and take their place in the round-two draw.

Wanderers, missing a number of players through illness and injuries, started with just four players of second-year scholar age in their line-up.

But they narrowed the age gap with an impressive performance from the start.

With two of the Whites’ more experienced players in Sam Inwood and skipper Sean Hogan providing a solid base at the back, Darby’s side built from there.

The central midfield duo of Harley Irwin and Harry Leigh maintained the strength of the spine and with Leigh always looking to link the play, Wanderers used the ball well when they had the chance, while keeping the Seasiders at arm’s length.

Lewis goal check

Leigh had the only meaningful strike of the first half, which was comfortably saved by Blackpool keeper Matteo Spinelli.

But it took the Whites just two minutes of the second period to break the deadlock and go in front.

Inevitably, Leigh was involved as he won the ball in a high press to release Daeshon Lawrence in the Blackpool box.

Lawrence kept his composure to move the ball on to Lewis, who made no mistake in poking a right-footed effort first-time beyond Spinelli to make it 1-0.

Fleury goal

And what was a good start to the half then quickly became the perfect one when Fleury quickly doubled the lead.

Again, Wanderers won possession deep in Blackpool territory and when Jamie Grayson fed the ball to Fleury just inside the penalty area, the frontman sent a superb angled strike across Spinelli and into the far corner.

Blackpool looked to respond and Wanderers had to defend their box from a couple of dangerous crosses and set-pieces, Grayson making one vital clearance at the far post.

Fleury celebration

But while Wanderers threatened on the break without being able to add to their tally, their advantage was rarely in danger of being reduced as goalkeeper George Barlow was only tested late on, grabbing a header from Seasiders’ defender Ezra Amadi-Emina before doing well to touch over an overhead kick from Lennon Scholes.

Wanderers therefore take their place in round two for the fourth year running but after two byes and a win over non-league opposition 12 months ago, this was a rewarding and deserved result to offer hope of a prolonged run.

Wanderers: Barlow: Grayson, Hogan, Inwood; Pinto (Smith 44), Leigh, Irwin, Oliver; Fleury, Lewis; Lawrence (Abimbola 75). Substitutes: Lomax, Bowker, Nuttall, Ritchie, Cutler.

Booked: Barlow

Blackpool: Spinelli; Opawole, Amadi-Emina, Oliver (Ahmed 74); Leliendal, Knight, Jones, Hill; Miles; Bondo (Scholes 75), Hassan. Substitutes: McVeigh, Crowe, Findlow, Madu, Campbell.

Booked: Bondo, Hill

Referee: Adam Watson

Pictures: Ben Livingstone

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