BURTON Albion Under-18s are through to the Northern section quarter-finals of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup after a 2-0 win over Lincoln City in their final group stage match.
A second-half brace from Yewo Nyirenda was the difference between the two sides as the Young Brewers recorded their third successive two-nil victory at St George’s Park.
The home side started brightest and the first chance of the game fell their way inside the opening eight minutes as captain Tom Hewlett seized upon a loose ball on the edge of the box before dragging his snap-shot wide. Jack Holmes then had two quick-fire chances to break the deadlock. His first was a curling effort that flew just the wrong side of the post, and his second, a shot that lacked the power to trouble the Lincoln goalkeeper who held comfortably.
The visitors grew into the match as the half went on and could have opened the scoring themselves in the 28th minute had their goal not been ruled out for offside. Five minutes later, the Young Imps were left frustrated again as Tom Armitage made a superb last-ditch block to deny their forward a shot on goal.
Albion were nearly gifted a goal at the start of the second-half as Armitage intercepted a square pass on the edge of the box before unleashing a shot into the side-netting. Minutes later, at the other end, Teddy Sharman-Lowe made an astonishing save to keep the scores level as he tipped a header onto the post from point-blank range.
Armitage was a livewire throughout and it was the left-back who was bundled over in Lincoln penalty area in the 56th minute as the referee pointed to the spot. Nyirenda made no mistake with his spot-kick; firing down the middle to continue his impressive run of form in front of goal.
The away side continued to pressurise the Burton backline and it took a succession of heroic blocks from Rueben Lal and Luke Redfern to keep the clean-sheet intact.
However, the Young Brewers held firm and secured the win seven minutes from time. Tyo Carter capitalised on a slip from the Lincoln full-back and he slid a beautiful ball across the box for Nyirenda to coolly slot home for his second of the game.
Speaking after the match, Professional Development Phase Coach Sam Rose talked about how Lincoln’s tactical set up made things difficult for his side, saying: “They played a diamond which is always difficult to play against. We’ve been playing 4-4-2 and we didn’t really want to change that but when they get more bodies in the middle of the pitch and they have a little bit more of the ball, it’s not good for the nerves. But I am proud of how we played with and without the ball today, and that we managed to pinch the second goal to seal it on the break.”
Rose also praised the team’s reaction since exiting the FA Youth Cup on penalties to Bolton Wanderers last month.
He said: “The lads have done really well since then. It’s another two-nil win, the third on the bounce now- we’ve got another good clean sheet and it’s all been fully deserved. We’re now into another knockout situation in another cup and it’s another great opportunity to see the players when the pressure is on them. I think this milestone is just them getting closer to fulfilling their potential which is what we’re here to try and do – to push them and get them to realise what they can achieve in the game.”