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Three days after we were victims of an EFL cup upset against Stanley, our Youth team showed us how it should be done with an Alliance Cup win over our hosts, chalking up a 1-0 victory.

We took the field at Little Wembley in Nelson with a couple of changes from our Preston draw the previous weekend. Oliver Younger was out, and seemingly not amongst the substitutes, suggesting an injury. Mark Howarth took his place in the team lining up in midfield with James Clarke partnering Scott Wilson in the middle of defence. Leighton Egan also dropped to the bench along with Tommy Wood, while Nashé Chakwana and Dwight McNeil were drafted in.

Mark Howarth came into the side
Mark Howarth came into the side

The opening 30 minutes brought very little by way of chances. Perhaps the best fell to Chakwana as RJ Pingling dinked a ball over the defence for him to run on to, but it just wouldn’t settle and the effort he finally got away was hindered and bobbled wide. The match was just a little frantic and no one could really get the ball under their spell. For both sides passing was a little wayward and control was anything but instant on a tough surface to master.

The hosts threatened most when breaking at pace against our high defensive line and a couple of times threatened to break through. The best they really got were a couple of corners and Marcel Wusiewicz claimed any high ball well when these were drifted over.

McNeil went on a mazy run that just fizzed out as he approached the danger zone, Chakwana fired a snap shot in that the keeper needed two attempts to gather, and Scott Wilson rose to meet a corner unchallenged but directed his free header wide of the target.

The frantic nature of the game didn’t really abate as the 2nd half started. McNeil had the ball in the net but the whistle had gone in ample time so there were no celebrations to be had. We also had a good appeal for a penalty as Chakwana was pushed to the ground in the box, but the ref wasn’t interested. Stanley countered with a great chance around 20 minutes into the half but saw a shot screwed well wide.

Shortly after this we took the lead. McNeil crossed from the left and it almost drifted in over the keeper, who palmed out for a corner. Tunde Bayode took the corner and worked a routine with Howarth. He played it short and ran past the midfielder, before collecting and breaking into the box through the defence. Approaching the byline he clipped it back low and Wilson took a swing. The connection wasn’t good and it spun up in the air, but the big centre half reacted faster than anyone else, taking a second swing and firing home through the crowd.

Wood came on for McNeil, with Chakwana moving out wider as we tried to press home on our advantage. It was Stanley though that nearly levelled as a poor Wusiewicz clearance went straight to a Stanley player, but his first time effort was no threat on the empty net.

We made another change and brought on Ali Koiki, who I understand may be on trial, replacing Waz Mpofu at left back. For the final 15 minutes we actually had some chances to extend the lead. Chakwana fired over, Bayode had an effort palmed wide and Pingling was played in but couldn’t get a clean shot off.

Stanley pressed as the game drew to a close but Wusiewicz remained largely untroubled and we claimed the win to give us a good start in the round robin phase of this cup.

Team:- Marcel Wusiewicz, Billy Grogan, Kwazinkosi Mpofu (Ali Koiki), Scott Wilson, James Clarke, Mark Haworth, Tyler Shrimpton, Olatunde Bayode, Dwight McNeil (Tommy Wood), RJ Pingling, Tinashe Chakwana.
Subs not used:- Leighton Egan, Tristen Jumeau

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