George Danaher’s side into final for second consecutive season
- Young Terriers beat Sheffield United 2-0 in Canalside semi-final
- Goals from Neo Eccleston and Cian Philpott
- Second consecutive final for Huddersfield Town Academy
The Huddersfield Town Academy progressed to their second consecutive Clarets Cup final following a 2-0 win over Sheffield United at Canalside on Tuesday evening.
First half goals from Neo Eccleston and Cian Philpott sealed the Young Terriers’ victory, despite the away side’s best efforts to pull it back throughout the second half.
The Clarets Cup is a competition created by Burnley for Under-17 players, with Town and another 13 teams competing in a Round Robin stage before the knockout semis and finals.
Town's previous Under-17 group won the 2019/20 competition, with midfielder Ben Midgley's penalty securing a 1-0 win over Burnley in the final at the John Smith's Stadium.
Tuesday's game against the Blades was the semi-final from the 2020/21 season, so the players involved were last season's Under-17s, alongside some of the new cohort from the current campaign!
The match began with United forcing a few attacking free kicks, however, the Young Terriers were capable at withstanding the early pressure.
The first two chances of the game, both set pieces for the away side, were cleared by Eccleston. The defender then became integral to Town getting on the front foot, and he would go on to score the opening goal.
United cleared the ball straight to Josh Okpolokpo, who in return floated the ball back towards the area just as the away side pushed out. The ‘keeper came out to control the ball, however, the pressure from Eccleston was enough to make him misjudge the drop of the ball and meant all the defender had to do was tap into an empty net.
George Danaher urged his side on from the sideline to build on the positive start, and that they did. Donay O’Brien-Brady was the danger man in attack, having two shots blocked and one fly narrowly wide after stealing the ball back from a United throw-in.
It seemed as if the first half would fizzle out with the Young Terriers one goal up, but then came Philpott with a moment of brilliance. The midfielder received the ball on the edge of the box, set himself, then curled the ball into the net via the inside of the post.
The Town side looked well on their way to the final and took the added confidence the second goal brought into the next 45 minutes.
After the break, it was the away side’s turn to pile on the pressure, and almost instantly Aleksandar Petrovic was called upon to jump highest and deal with a dangerous cross when the ball was returned to the box following a clearance.
It was somewhere in that melee that Petrovic picked up a knock, and despite playing on for a further 10 or so minutes with some discomfort, he was unable to continue and was replaced by Michael Acquah.
The Young Terriers managed the remainder of the game well and gave United little in terms of a route back, bar one glaring opportunity 10 minutes before time was up.
Latching onto a wayward pass, the Blades’ number 9 was one-on-one with Acquah, but the substitute keeper closed down the space and dived low to his left to tip the shot around the post.
The Young Terriers withstood a late barrage of attacks, rounding off a great performance and ensuring qualification for the Clarets Cup final for the second season running.
Town’s team (4-3-3)
Aleksandar Petrovic (Michael Acquah, 61’); Michael Stone, David Adewoju, Josh Okpolokpo (c), Neo Eccleston; Luke Billam, Cian Philpott, Tom Iorpenda; Donay O’Brien-Brady, Charles Ondo, Fopefoluwa Deru
Michael Parker, Ajay Weston, Hakeem Sandah, Tyree Sanusi, Conor Falls, Dylan Helliwell, Joseph Johnson
Neo Eccleston (17’), Cian Philpott (44’)