Under-21 Premier League Cup win for the Terriers
Frankie Bunn’s Development Squad progressed to the next stage of the Under-21 Premier League Cup this afternoon courtesy of a 1-0 win over visitors Barnsley.
Academy graduate Flo Bojaj (pictured) netted the only goal of the game early in the second-half in a game that Town dominated for long spells, but couldn’t finish off despite creating a number of chances.
After this Qualifying Round 2 win, Town will now play in the Round of 32 in late November, when the Category 1 Academies join the competition.
In contrast to the experienced side that won Town’s Final Third Development League game on Monday, Frankie Bunn’s side featured no overage players for the contest at the John Smith’s Stadium. From the starting eleven, only Jordan Sinnott, Philip Billing, Matt Crooks and Daniel Carr had a handful of First Team appearances.
For the opposition, Huddersfield-born left back Reuben Noble-Lazarus was by far and away the most notable name.
The Tykes packed midfield and enjoyed some spells of possession throughout the first-half, but it was the young Terriers who bossed the chances. The first came as early as the second minute when Carr released Ben Atkinson down the right; he laid it back to Sinnott, but Carr chose to prod at his deep cross with his right foot when a left footed strike was the option and the chance came to nothing.
The impressively busy Sondre Tronstad was the next to try his luck, forcing visiting goalkeeper Adam Davies into action low to his right side with a firm volley from outside the area.
Town’s side possessed real height and long throws from Billing, along with a succession of corners, caused Barnsley some restless moments.
Barnsley’s best effort of the opening 45 came just before the half hour mark when central midfielder Darren McKnight curled a useful free-kick just over Lloyd Allinson’s crossbar, but normal service was resumed five minutes later when Carr forced Davies into another save with a snapshot that drew applause from Frankie Bunn on the touchline.
Davies was tested to his limit in the 34th minute when Sinnott hit a screaming shot from the left side that the ‘keeper pushed over his bar at the second attempt, but Crooks came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the first-half with an effort five minutes later. Young midfielder Atkinson did brilliantly to make an interception deep in Barnsley’s half before playing a clever reverse ball into Crooks’ path and Matt took aim before rattling the woodwork with a fierce left foot volley on the angle.
Noble-Lazarus did well to deny Carr an opportunity to score soon afterwards from Crooks’ cross into the area before the last chance of the half came Town’s way again. Tronstad chipped a pass into Flo Bojaj’s path and although the Town striker beat the onrushing goalkeeper to the ball, his lob lacked real power and a defender easily covered to clear the danger.
Town’s pressure eventually told in the 48th minute with a goal for Bojaj. The Academy graduate earned his side a corner with a run forward and when Sinnott trotted across to send in a deep delivery from the left, Flo was left unmarked at the back post to power home a thumping header.
Bunn’s side should have put the game to bed as further chances continued to come their way, but couldn’t notch a second. First Carr rounded the ‘keeper but opted to shoot from a narrow angle and struck the outside of the post before Crooks hit a shot straight at the ‘keeper from Sinnott’s precise long pass.
Then substitute Rekeil Pyke got into the action. The Under-18’s top scorer had two efforts after replacing Carr; hitting a snapshot wide from 20 yards after good work from striker partner Bojaj before being sent clear by the same player, only to see a tame curler saved by the goalie.
Barnsley finally had a spell of pressure in the final 15 minutes, with Allinson pushing a free-kick from a wide position over his crossbar with eight minutes remaining. However, the Terriers were still a threat at the other end; Tronstad curling wastefully over after good work from midfield substitute Ben Holmes.
Town’s team (4-4-1-1):
Lloyd Allinson; William Boyle (c), Joe Wright, Joe Wilkinson, Jordan Sinnott; Sondre Tronstad, Philip Billing, Matt Crooks (Jacob Hanson, 90), Ben Atkinson; Flo Bojaj (Ben Holmes, 85); Daniel Carr (Rekeil Pyke, 69)
Ed Wilczynski, Regan Booty