U18s Cling On to Beat Exeter in Youth Cup
Saturday, 16th Nov 2019 17:34 by Liam Young
Ipswich Town clung on to claim a place in the third round of the FA Youth Cup via a fighting 2-1 victory over a spirited Exeter City side at Portman Road.
First-half goals from Connor O’Reilly (pictured) and Colin Oppong had Town on easy street as Exeter failed to test goalkeeper Jake Alley in the home goal.
But a header midway through the second half by the Grecians’ captain Louis Morison and a couple of impressive stops by Alley made the passage to the next round far from certain.
Ipswich’s reward for their battling victory sees them face a testing away trip to Championship side Cardiff City.
It was the away side who had the first chance of the afternoon as some slack play allowed Exeter forward Nelson Iseguan to find space and shoot, which he dragged well wide.
From there it was all the home side as full-back O’Reilly scored again, as he did in the previous round, poking home from close range as Exeter struggled to clear from a corner in the sixth minute.
The Tractor Boys were dominant but failed to add to their advantage as they struggled to break down a stubborn Exeter rearguard.
But their resistance was broken with less than 10 minutes to go to the break as a pinpoint cross was chested down by Oppong and he used his strength to turn and lash the ball into the roof of the net.
The Blues threatened to stretch the Grecians' defence further as the Impressive O’Reilly and Zak Brown, who was a standout in the last round, engineered a beautiful move but Liam Gibbs’s finish was tame.
It was vital the Devon side didn’t concede again, and luck was on their side after the break as only five minutes gone, Town winger Tyreece Simpson unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards that cannoned back off the post.
The away side pressed hard after that and had a golden opportunity to get back into the contest, but Alley pulled off a tremendous save when Ben Chrisene should have done much better.
Simpson almost scored again but the Blues’ failure to find that killer goal was to come back to haunt them as Exeter captain Louis Morison was given time to run onto a front-post cross, and his header looped into the far corner to halve the deficit.
Sensing a change in momentum, the away side were almost level as substitute Ellis Johnson forced a wonderful save from Alley to keep Town’s narrow advantage intact as the game entered the last 15 minutes.
After that though Exeter failed to threaten the home goal although there was a massive sense of relief from the crowd inside Portman Road that Town had got away with a poor second half performance.
U18s: Alley, O'Reilly, Fehrenbach, Henderson (c), Smith, Z Brown, Alexander, Healy (Cutbush 66), Gibbs, Oppong (Viral 59), Simpson (Ruffles 83). Unused: Wyss, Bort, Baker, Reed.
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