U18s Beat Gills to Reach FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Friday, 11th Jan 2019 22:06 by James Ager
Town's U18s progressed to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup as they beat Gillingham 2-1 at Priestfield on Friday evening. Armando Dobra (pictured) gave Adem Atay and Kieron Dyer's side a half-time lead before Roman Campbell equalised and then Kai Brown scored a late winner for the young Blues.
Atay named England U17 international Dylan Crowe at right-back and Bailey Clements, who has featured regularly for the U23s, at centre-back as Town - who played in their orange away kit - lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Also included were a number of the scholars currently out on loan at various local non-league clubs.
Town had a great chance to open the scoring after just six minutes but after Kai Brown had played the ball into the area from the right, Tommy Hughes controlled the ball and managed to lift it over the bar from close range.
At the other end a looping header back across goal from Campbell landed on the roof of the net, and soon after the same player saw Toby Egan comfortably gather another headed effort.
Midway through the half Kai Brown again teed-up Hughes but the second-year scholar, who is currently on loan at Bury Town, rather scuffed his volley into the ground and keeper Joe Walsh wasn't troubled.
Walsh was then in the right position to claim a header from Dobra, shortly before Crowe burst forward and into the box, only to pull his low effort wide of the far post.
Zak Brown then challenged Walsh - who had left his area to try and deal with a weak header back to him - and the ball fell kindly for Hughes, but he lobbed the bouncing ball over the bar from around 25 yards out.
As the half-time whistle approached, Kai Brown fed the ball to Dobra and Walsh had to get down well to block his effort, moments before Gills striker Charles Noyelle flashed a low effort just wide of the target.
However, on 44 Town did take a deserved lead into the interval when Idris El Mizouni, who had struggled to make much of an impact on the game up until this point, hit a fierce shot from the edge of the box that Walsh could only parry and Dobra reacted quickest to slot the loose ball into the net.
Six minutes after the restart Town came close to throwing their hard-earned lead away when Luca Vega's header back towards Egan fell short and the keeper's clearance ricocheted off two Gillingham players before landing wide of the goal.
After surviving that scare, Town nearly added a second when Zak Brown got into a good position in the box and should have shot at goal, but he tried to bring the ball back inside the defender, who intercepted and was able to clear before Walsh was called into action.
On 57 Toby Bancroft pulled his effort into the side-netting from the edge of the box, but the home side did level the scores six minutes later.
A dangerous ball into the box from left-back Jimmy Witt was only partly cleared and the dangerous Campbell took a touch before curling a fine effort into the top corner from the corner of the box.
The goal clearly galvanised the Kent side and Town had to defend well to get through a period of pressure, but Atay's side were still dangerous going forwards and Tommy Lamb produced a fine block to keep Dobra's goalbound shot out after some good work from sub Lounes Foudil on the left.
On 77 Zak Brown was fouled on the edge of the box and El Mizouni's freekick was only cleared as far as Foudil, who took a touch before curling a shot inches wide of the woodwork.
With five minutes remaining Zak Brown was again taken down as he attempted to burst into the home side's box, with some in the crowd feeling a penalty should have been awarded.
A couple of minutes elapsed while Emmanuel Fernandez was booked for the foul and George Sheminant received treatment for an injury but El Mizouni then saw his freekick crash off the bar, and Kai Brown pounced to bundle the loose ball home from six yards out.
The home side used the seven minutes of additional time to try and find a second equaliser but they failed to really test Egan again and Town held on to progress to the fifth round, where they will face a trip to either Southampton or Watford.
While he drifted in and out of the game, Dobra looked dangerous every time his team-mates managed to get the ball to him, while both Zak and Kai Brown worked hard against two big centre-halves and they created a number of chances throughout.
U18s: Egan, Crowe (Ronan 65), Smith, Scott (Curtis 78), Clements, Vega, K Brown, El Mizouni, Z Brown, Dobra, Hughes (Foudil 65). Unused: Alley, Healy. Att: 369.
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