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11 December 2012

Town progress to FA Youth Cup Fourth Round

Town: Kedesh Goddard (2); Joe Wilkinson (28); Duane Holmes (42)

The Huddersfield Town Under-18 side progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup after a comprehensive win at Hartlepool United, with three first half goals sealing progression to Friday afternoon’s draw. 

Town’s class told on the evening against their opponents from the Youth Alliance League, with strikes from skipper Kedesh Goddard, first year centre back Joe Wilkinson and top scorer Duane Holmes more than enough for the win.

Town’s youngsters, who are managed this season by Professional Development Coaches Frankie Bunn and Tony Carss, lined up in their usual 4-3-3 formation at a freezing Victoria Park, with central striker Paul Mullin flanked by wingers George Conway – an ever present in competitive games this season – and Welsh Under-17 international Jake Charles.

With Academy Manager Mark Lillis, Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens and Head of Football Operations Ross Wilson among those watching on from the stands, Town’s youngsters – in their third strip of red with a black and white chevron – took the lead with the first attack of the game inside two minutes after a composed passage of play.

Town’s opener – which came just after the 90 second mark – started with first year centre back picking out the head of overlapping right back Thomas Briggs, who won the aerial challenge in determined fashion. Briggs’ head found striker Mullin, whose clever flick over the defender found onrushing midfielder Kedesh Goddard – and he composed himself before smashing a powerful drive to the ‘keeper’s right side from 15 yards out for his second goal of the season. 

Hartlepool responded impressively, with striker Luke James – a man with considerable first team experience under his belt – shooting just wide on the turn barely a minute later.

The game had a frenetic pace to it in the early stages and neither side could settle on the ball, but Town never looked genuinely threatened by Hartlepool throughout the half. The only chances for the hosts came through rare Town errors at the back, mostly as a result of the admirable intention of playing out from the back.

Right back Briggs’ long throw was a potent weapon all evening and brought about the next opportunity of the game just after the quarter hour mark. The defender’s delivery landed at the back post and Mullin went down under a challenge from Pools ‘keeper Mark Foden – only for the referee to turn the appeals down.

At the other end striker James was a lonely figure for the hosts, finding the close attentions of giant centre half Boyle and his colleague Wilkinson difficult to shake.

Hartlepool’s best chance of the half came through a 21st minute corner; left winger Daniel Jones connecting with a half cleared ball on the edge of the box with a sweet volley that looked to be flying in – before midfielder Duane Holmes bravely headed off the line. 

Holmes has been a regular scorer for the under-18s this term – he is top scorer with six from midfield – and he went close to a seventh three minutes later after receiving a short pass infield from Charles, bending a left footed curler against the crossbar with the goalkeeper well beaten.

The young Terriers were enjoying their best spell of the half at this time and made it count with a second in the 28th minute – and it came from another Briggs long throw. Boyle jogged forward and won the initial header, but goalkeeper Foden should have gathered; instead the ball slipped through his grasp and Joe Wilkinson showed the anticipation of a striker to pounce for his third goal of the campaign.

Wilkinson almost let the Pools back in the game upon the restart, gifting possession to Zak Boagey; he played teammate Jones into the area but when Town left back Starkey got a block in, Boagey could only push the ball into ‘keeper Ed Wilczynski’s grasp.

Town made it three with three minutes to go until the interval after striker Mullin, who provided a fantastic outlet for his side all game, worked very hard to win his side a throw in down the left flank. This time the ball was played short to Conway, who moved the ball quickly infield to midfielder Danny Morton. He pushed the ball sideways to Duane Holmes, who took a quick touch before sending an unstoppable 20 yard drive past the stationary goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Jake Charles came out of the blocks in determined fashion as the Terriers threatened in the early stages of the second half. After testing the ‘keeper within the first 11 seconds, he breezed past left back Turner down the line before driving into the area and missing the target from a very narrow angle. 

Unfortunately his next effort – a 58th minute free-kick after a foul on the lively Holmes – cleared the stand behind the goal!

Duane Holmes did better with another free kick moments later – stinging the palms of the ‘keeper with a low effort before several Town players were flagged offside following up.

Holmes was enjoying life at Victoria Park by this stage and a superb 67th minute turn and run left the home midfield and defence in his wake. The midfielder made it to the by-line before cutting the ball back to midfield colleague Morton, but with the goal at his mercy he sliced the ball wide of target. 

Pools striker James and winger Boagey hit efforts wide and over respectively from outside the penalty area as the hosts desperately searched for a way back into the Third Round tie, but in truth Town controlled possession for large periods and never looked in danger of relinquishing the lead.

George Conway was only denied a second of the season five minutes from time when he collected a long free kick into the area from Briggs and hit a low snapshot; the ‘keeper turning the ball around the near post smartly.

Town’s team (4-3-3):
Ed Wilczynski; Mikey Starkey, William Boyle, Joe Wilkinson, Thomas Briggs; Danny Morton (Fraser Horsfall 90), Kedesh Goddard (c), Duane Holmes; George Conway, Paul Mullin (Ryan Cox 88), Jake Charles

Unused subs:
Sam Guthrie (GK), Nathaniel Pells, Ben Atkinson

Town bookings: William Boyle (62), Paul Mullin (75)
Hartlepool bookings: Bradley Walker (45); Rhys Harbottle (59)

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