Town impress, but fall at the hands of Fulham
Huddersfield Town Under-18’s FA Youth Cup journey was ended at Fulham, but they could be extremely proud of their efforts at Craven Cottage.
Frankie Bunn’s and Tony Carss’ men matched their Premier League counterparts stride for stride in a highly entertaining Sixth Round encounter.
Moussa Dembele proved the difference between the sides. The striker was clinical inside the box and produced two superb finishes to put Town to the sword.
Flo Bojaj restored some hope to make it 2-1 and Town almost nicked an equaliser when Rekeil Pyke smashed the crossbar from eight yards.
Regan Booty, who impressed defensively in the previous round against Manchester United, was Town’s only change from the 2-1 victory with Ben Holmes making way.
Patrick Roberts, who featured on the bench in Fulham’s victory against Newcastle on Saturday, lined up in attack for the home team who had beaten Manchester City in the previous round.
The attacker had been attracting interest from Manchester United before signing a professional deal with the Cottagers and it was clear from the opening moments that he was a talent.
Diminutive in stature, he used his low centre of gravity to cut inside Danny Kane with two minutes gone, only to have his shooting opportunity blocked by Joe Wilkinson.
Town’s front pairing of Flo Bojaj and Jake Charles started well and the latter had the first effort of the game in the seventh minute with a drive that was deflected wide.
The Terriers’ dominance continued as the half progressed with Philip Billing controlling the play from the centre of the park. His endeavour to win the ball and then his composure on it was creating openings for Town as Bojaj fired over on 16 minutes.
Fulham were lively on the break though, and they showed why they are top of their league with a clinical opener. Dean O’Halloran was given too much time down the left to pick out Moussa Dembele who headed home from six yards.
Backed by a small contingent of Town fans, the Terriers’ youngsters didn’t let their heads drop and immediately had the home side on the back foot.
Charles twice went close during the mid-point of the half as he tried to add to his seasonal tally of 14 goals. The best opening was in the 22nd minute when Bojaj and Bradley Carroll combined, but Charles couldn’t find the target with his reverse shot.
At the other end, Wilkinson did well to deny Dembele, whilst the striker also headed wide as Sam Guthrie rarely found himself threatened in the Town goal.
Charles saw another shot deflected wide as Town finished the half strongly, however that all important equaliser was proving elusive.
Town started the second period excellently with Charles seeing a driven effort blocked before he turned provided to Bojaj, whose shot was superbly blocked by Fulham captain Liam Donnelly.
As the Terriers pushed for an equaliser, Fulham’s front four were enjoying more space. George Williams almost made Town pay, but Guthrie was equal to his low effort.
With the hour mark just gone, the home team were causing Town problems and they made their pressure count with Dembele grabbing an excellent second. A deep ball into the area wasn’t dealt with by the Terriers and the striker peeled off his marker to thrash home.
However, just like after Fulham’s opener Town stuck at their task – and this time they were rewarded. Ben Atkinson was released down the left and with Bojaj unmarked and in acres of space, the midfielder found him and the striker did the rest, rounding Marek Rodak before prodding home his 14th of the season.
Dembele went close to restoring Fulham’s two goal lead shortly afterwards before Guthrie made a fine stop to deny Roberts to ensure that Town were still in the tie with 15 to go.
Guthrie kept out the skilful Williams with ten to go and Carroll cleared on the line as Town struggled to build play.
A frantic final few minutes almost brought Town an equaliser and as Rekeil Pyke turned to shoot one looked destined, but his effort rebounded off the bar to the despair of the Terriers.
Town’s team (4-4-2):
Sam Guthrie; Bradley Carroll (Rekeil Pyke, 86), William Boyle, Joe Wilkinson (c), Danny Kane; Regan Booty, Ben Atkinson (Jack Boyle, 78), Philip Billing, Kedesh Goddard (Ben Holmes, 54); Jake Charles, Flo Bojaj
George Dorrington, Nathaniel Pells
Match picture courtesy of Martin Goldthorpe