Despite having the bulk of the chances, United were dumped out of the FA Youth Cup by Croydon Athletic for the second season running, the visitors earning victory courtesy of superior finishing and a superb display by keeper Adam Peck.
United were quickly
out of the blocks and twice in the first five minutes went close through centre-back Charlie Wassmer. His first effort saw a header from a free-kick go across goal and wide while his next attempt, a stooping header from a Daniel Wishart corner was caught on the line by Peck. Next chance fell to Wishart himself, Jake Lovell beat three challenges before setting up Wishart on the left but his weak effort was easy for Peck.
Although not troubling Simon Grant in the United goal, Croydon showed enough quality on the ball for United to know they would be in for a tough evening. Lovell had a shot saved by Peck before the visitors almost stole a lead when a long range drive from Rob Depeazer was fumbled wide by Grant. The resultant corner was missed by the United keeper who was quick enough to pounce on the ball as legs flew in just a yard from goal.
Wishart then met a Josh Andrew cross at the far post only for the toe of defender Jack Turner to intercept and force the ball wide of the post. Just a minute later a perfect ball from the back found skipper Dan Moody racing into the United area before beating the on-coming Grant to give the visitors the lead.
Minutes before the break a Wishart corner made its way to the far post via two defensive touches and Brice Boyer was unable to force it home, the ball going just wide of the upright.
The second half was to take exactly the same path as the first, United being more creative and at the same time struggling to hit the target, and when they did found the outstanding Peck in the way.
Just three minutes were played and once again Wassmer was the player to go close when he bounced a volley from a poorly cleared corner just wide of the post. Peck came to his sides rescue on the hour mark, a Barnes free-kick to the far post being met by Wassmer only to be palmed out at point blank range by the Croydon keeper. Peck and a bit of lady luck kept the visitors in front eight minutes later, Barnes made his way into the area, his shot was well saved by Peck and the loose ball was fired back by Andrew but his effort came back off the post.
Four minutes later though United finally got the goal they deserved when Lovell received a quick throw, lifted the ball over his marker and curled a perfect shot into the top corner beyond the fingers of Peck. Sadly instead of deflating the visitors, it spurred them on and just four minutes later they scored again. Good work by the impressive Moody on the right saw him fire a near post cross that Jack Nicholson darted in at pace to touch past Grant.
Navid Zandi was just too high from 25 yards for Croydon before Peck fumbled an Andrew shot that his defenders helped clear. With Grant also forward, United almost forced a stoppage time equaliser when a deep ball was headed goalwards by a Croydon defender, but headed off the line by one of his teammates, much to his relief, and United were beaten.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Website United Man of the Match: Charlie Wassmer.