BURTON Albion Under-18s picked up their second win of the week as they produced a professional performance to see off Huddersfield Town 2-0 in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup group stages at St George’s Park.
Goals either side of half-time from Rueben Lal and Owen Hickson were enough to secure the all-important three points and back-to-back victories for the Young Brewers.
The first chance of the game fell the way of the home side within the opening 10 minutes. Marauding full-back Tom Armitage’s low drive across goal was saved by the visiting goalkeeper before captain Tom Hewlett was also denied from close range with the follow-up.
Eight minutes later, Yewo Nyirenda had his first effort of the match as he looked to score in successive matches after his goal in the 2-1 FA Youth Cup victory over Chesterfield last time out. The striker did superbly well to round the on-rushing goalkeeper but was thwarted by a defender on the line who managed to clear.
Albion continued to boss proceedings and came close to breaking the deadlock once again. Lal stepped up into midfield to win the ball back from behind his man and played a beautifully weighted pass through to Nyirenda who saw his shot turned behind for a corner.
And it was the man who started the move off who would give the home side the lead in the 22nd minute. Said Idouarab floated the corner to the far post and, completely unmarked, Lal rose high and nodded back across goal into the top corner.
After providing the assist for the opening goal, Idouarab commented on how pleasing it was to see the hard-work in training pay dividends, saying: “The set-pieces are well-worked routines. We go through them a lot and we all know our roles, so it’s always nice when they come off and today, we got a goal nice and early from it.”
The Terriers struggled to create any chances that threatened Teddy Sharman-Lowe’s goal in the first-half, with their two most notable efforts both going the wrong side of the post.
That would not be the case after half-time however as Sharman-Lowe was called into action just five minutes after the restart; producing a great save down low to his left to keep a header out.
Huddersfield continued to pile the pressure on in the search for an equaliser as they saw a strike cannon off the crossbar, before Sharman-Lowe produced another excellent save from another headed effort from point-blank range to frustrate the visitors once more.
However, the Young Brewers held firm and with five minutes to go, they delivered the sucker-punch. A lightning-quick counter-attack was finished off when Nyirenda squared for the onrushing Hickson to slide home.
Speaking after the match, midfielder Ben McLean talked about his delight with both the win and the clean sheet. He said: “I thought we defended well because we were under the cosh for the last 30 minutes. We just kept the ball out of the net and did our job. Getting the first goal helped us a lot because I think it boosts confidence for the rest of the game.”
Professional Development Phase Coach Sam Rose commented on McLean’s performance as well as his role within the side, saying: “He was as good as anyone today. Ben’s actually a centre-half really. He’s also played right-back but he is in there [the midfield] to push him and give him a different experience. Looking at him long-term, we think he is going to be a centre-half but he can play, he’s athletic, and he likes tackling.”
Rose concluded his post-match thoughts by looking ahead to Wednesday’s second round FA Youth Cup match against Bolton Wanderers. He said: “Playing at the Pirelli Stadium will be great experience for the lads and we are going into the game on the back of two wins and with that, some confidence. I’m sure Bolton will be a tough game but we have shown today that if we are up against it, we can defend and we can be a threat from set-pieces and on the counter-attack.”