Wilkinson and Boyle score in 11th straight win
- Town Under-21s beat Middlesbrough in Premier League Cup
- Chelsea or Southampton away in the next round
- Joe Wilkinson & Jack Boyle with the goals
The young Terriers secured an 11th straight win at Under-21 level this afternoon to setup a Premier League Cup tie at either Chelsea or Southampton in the New Year, but had to come from behind against Middlesbrough at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Town should have been ahead after a first half in which they created plenty of chances, but it was the visitors that took the lead in the 66th minute after a Joe Wilkinson error gave an opportunity away.
Captain Wilkinson soon made amends by netting the deflected equaliser before a great strike from substitute Jack Boyle sealed passage to the competition’s round of 16.
Frankie Bunn’s side set off well in the game and created a number of opportunities in the first quarter of an hour. Second year Academy scholar Rekeil Pyke took too long when presented with a great early opportunity, allowing defender Callum Johnson to recover, before Duane Holmes (twice) and Flo Bojaj all hit efforts too close to the goalkeeper when well positioned.
The Terriers weren’t passing at their fluent best and Boro gradually got back into the game, forcing goalkeeper Lloyd Allinson into his first work on the 25th minute mark when danger man Harrison Chapman curled an effort goalwards.
Pyke and Jack Senior combined well on the half hour mark to setup Bojaj with an effort he had to take quickly, but again the shot went straight into goalkeeper Coddington’s hands.
Flo then missed the chance of the half in the 39th minute, somehow diverting Ronan Coughlan’s excellent low ball across the face of goal wide of the far post.
Bojaj was in the thick of the action and his powerful low effort was turned away by the visiting custodian to finish the half.
Middlesbrough pressed the Terriers a bit higher in the second half and the game turned into a scrappy affair, with Rob Tinkler deflected shot over the bar in the 61st minute the first real chance of note.
Then the first goal of the game went to Boro in the 66th minute. Trying to work the ball out, Wilkinson dallied and Chapman nicked possession. The Boro attacker deserved credit for riding the last ditch lunge from Danny Kane inside the area before rounding Allinson and tapping home from an ever-narrowing angle.
That error seemed to rock Wilkinson’s confidence and another error in possession gifted possession to Chapman soon after, with Bryn Morris heading his whipped cross marginally wide of the far post.
However, the Terriers found a way back into the game with a clever corner routine in the 76th minute. After substitute Ben Holmes had a shot turned behind, Town’s players rushed to the near post to give Wilkinson chance to make a late, unopposed run towards the far post. The delivery picked him out perfectly and he thundered a powerful header home from around 15 yards out via a deflection off a defender.
The winner followed just six minutes later. Ben Holmes intercepted a poor cross-field pass and worked the ball left for Flo Bojaj; the striker took time and lifted a cross to the back post, where substitute Jack Boyle slammed home a left foot volley for his first of the season at this level.
Boro tried to find a way back into the tie late on, but didn’t trouble Allinson – with Town holding the ball up well, thanks on numerous occasions to good work from Coughlan.
Town’s team (4-4-2 diamond):
Lloyd Allinson; Jack Senior, Joe Wilkinson (c), Danny Kane, Jacob Hanson; Regan Booty, Duane Holmes, Sondre Tronstad (Ben Holmes, 73), Ronan Coughlan; Flo Bojaj, Rekeil Pyke (Jack Boyle, 70)
Tadhg Ryan, Jamie Spencer, Callum Charlton
Duane Holmes (90)