Battling Bantams youngsters bow out with pride at Burnley

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Match review: Burnley 2 Bradford City 0 (FA Youth Cup)

By Tim Penfold

Bradford City U18’s dreams of cup glory came to an end last night as they were comfortably defeated 2-0 by Burnley.  The young Bantams gave a good account of themselves but lacked a cutting edge, and in the end Burnley’s pressure was too much for them.

City started the game quite brightly, with Curtis Peters showing quality in midfield and Ellis Hudson looking dangerous whenever he got the ball, but suffered an early blow when right back Tom Windle went off with a suspected broken toe.  The substitution moved Kwame Boateng out of midfield to right back, and City missed his power and ability in the middle.

Despite this, they created some early openings, with a Ville Moilanen backheel nearly putting Hudson in on goal, and a midfield surge from Peters winning a free kick which Hudson put into the wall.

At the back, however, the defence struggled to deal with Burnley’s classic big man-quick man pairing.  City played a high line to counter the height of Burnley’s Tommy Wood, which meant that keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy had to do an impressive impersonation of Manuel Neuer, sweeping up before the other Burnley striker, Chakwana, could get on to through balls.

The high line did stop Wood winning headers close to the goal and Chakwana struggled to time his runs to break it, often appearing to be offside.

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Despite this, Burnley still threatened a few times – Wood powered a header narrowly wide, while Alex Laird was lucky to get away with a collision with Chakwana when the Burnley frontman would’ve been through – but City seemed likely to get to half time without incident when suddenly Burnley broke through.  The ball over the top initially seemed to be going towards the offside Chakwana, but he stopped well short of it.

Sykes-Kenworthy momentarily seemed to hesitate as a result and Dwight McNeil nipped in, rounded him and slotted it in.

At the start of the second half, City still seemed to be dazed from the first goal and it wasn’t long before Burnley grabbed a second.  Again, it was a through ball towards an offside Chakwana, only this time he seemed to make a genuine attempt to go for it before stopping inches from it.

Tommy Wood sprinted onto it and clipped it past Sykes-Kenworthy while City’s defenders looked in disbelief at the linesman.  They continued to wobble and could’ve easily conceded a third shortly afterwards.  Going forward, their approach play was nice but the attack didn’t quite click, with the wrong decision made too often in the final third, while Hudson’s individual skill was limited by Burnley crowding him whenever he gained possession.

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

City threw on forwards as the game went on, and eventually started to find holes in a nervous-looking Burnley back line.  They came very close when Harry Warren, charging forward from left back, did very well to get away from a defender before firing a cross that came very close to giving Hudson a tap-in.  Ville Moilanen also forced a good save from the Burnley keeper, but City couldn’t get the goal, and it took an excellent block from Sam Wright to stop Burnley making it three on the counter.

There were plenty of positives to take away from this game however.  Curtis Peters and Kwame Boateng look like real prospects, while George Sykes-Kenworthy was also impressive, his hesitation for the first goal aside.  Ellis Hudson’s impact was limited by Burnley surrounding him, but his potential was still clear, and he looks the most likely to be making an impact on the first team anytime soon.

Burnley go on to face 2013 winners Norwich in the next round, but City can leave the competition with their heads held high.

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

Image by Thomas Gadd (copyright Bradford City)

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