Leeds United under 18’s crashed out of the FA Youth Cup after a heartening 2-5 defeat to a continental Manchester City under 18 team.
A number of first team players, as well as Leeds icon Ian Harte were in attendance at Elland Road, witnessing a young Leeds side struggle to cope with and match City’s clinical finishing in the final third.
Andy Gray’s team started the game really well, setting a high tempo and pressing the visitors into making a couple of early mistakes. Mallik Wilks almost capitalised on one straight from the off, but ended up dragging his shot wide.
16 year-old Jamie Shackleton, playing in the number ten role caught the eye early on and linked up well with Tom Pearce to carve open the City defence, although to no avail.
Pearce then worked himself a good position inside the area but his left-footed effort sailed over the bar, before great work down the left from Wilks put the ball on Pearce’s head, but unfortunately his looping header was plucked out the air by Daniel Grimshaw.
But it was former Leeds winger Jason Wilcox’s side who took the lead first. The away team’s pace causing problems once again, Aaron Nemane’s cross was tapped in by Lukas Nmecha, giving Theo Richardson no chance in the United goal.
Leeds almost had the perfect response when Tyla Bell found himself in the City box with the ball at his feet with only the crossbar denying him.
The tidy Ronaldo-Viera was next to go close, winning the ball back with some tenacious pressing, beating the remaining defender with lightening step-overs and drilling a shot just wide.
But City struck just at the right time, Oluwatosin Adarabioyo’s towering header from a corner gave the home side a mountain to climb. Half time followed soon after.
The second period started quietly, but a quick-fire double from the away team effectively ended the tie as a contest.
Rodney Kongolo was played through and a little fake sent Richardson down early, leaving the Dutch midfielder to finish off a classy move.
A defensive error freed Nmecha to make it four, three minutes later. Before Kongolo got his second of the night with a controlled volley from the edge of the area.
That was the cue for a number of supporters to head for their cars and it would've been very easy for the young whites to collapse. But they showed great character to keep fighting and they got their just reward after a good cross from Wilks was turned into his own net by Erik Sariemento, to give those who had stayed in the West Stand something to cheer about.
Clarke Odour was then tripped in the area by Adarabioyo, after a clever free kick routine by Viera and Shackleton.
Lewis Knight stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way, to give Leeds a respectable showing in the final 2-5 score line.
By Alex Mulvey
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