Youth Alliance Cup Third Round: Northampton Town Under-18's 0 Southend United Under-18's 3

Last updated : 24 January 2011 By shrimperstrust
Football League Youth Alliance Cup 3rd Round

Asante damaged his cruciate knee ligaments in a reserve match against Ipswich Town in February 2010, having made his first-team debut earlier in the season at Gillingham in the FA Cup, but he began the road back to full fitness with a half-hour run-out at Moulton Agricultural College.

"It was good to see that Kyle still has pace in his knee after the reconstruction, and I thought he took his goal well,"
said Head of Youth Ricky Duncan afterwards. "I knew that he'd score as soon as the ball went over the top, and he also did really well to set up George Smith for the third. He took five minutes or so to settle, but it was good to see him out there again."

Despite the positivity surrounding the forward's comeback, Southend laboured to record the victory that sets up an Area Semi-Final against either Stevenage or Bristol Rovers, even after Duane Ofori-Acheampong's 13th-minute opener. Asante's effort came just eight minutes from the end, whilst Smith's second goal of the season arrived in stoppage time as a young Northampton side resisted a Blues side that have now won ten of their last twelve fixtures.

Goalkeeper Daniel Bentley was not risked ahead of Wednesday evening's FA Youth Cup Fourth Round tie at Derby County, allowing first-year scholar Luke Chambers another chance to impress. Kane Ferdinand's appearance for the first-team prohibited him from travelling, but another youngster with a senior start to his name, Alex Woodyard, was named in the middle of the pitch.

Winger Marcus Milner was also restored to the ranks having recovered from a broken foot, but he was not to enjoy his morning in the same manner as team-mate Asante. A routine challenge inside the first six minutes saw Milner hobble off, and Duncan confirmed later that a repeat break is suspected.

The Shrimpers, who started in a lively fashion, had already threatened by this point, Cobblers defender Ben Islam doing well to deflect James Stevens' free-kick away from Louis Baucutt at the back post and Ofori-Acheampong seeing his side-footed attempt comfortably saved from Stevens' resultant corner.

It was not long before the visitors were celebrating after taking the lead. Republic of Ireland Under-17 international Smith chased down a long ball down the right-hand side and cut the ball back from the bye-line to the unmarked Ofori-Acheampong, and the front man had no trouble in slotting his tenth goal in nine games into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

The goal seemed to galvanise Northampton more than it did Blues, and Greg Kaziboni brought a fine save out of Chambers, who had to dive at full-stretch to his left to push the ball to safety after a quarter-of-an-hour. Five minutes later, Alex Konstantinou was denied by the former Arsenal custodian, who parried out the striker's fierce shot before the rebound was directed over.

Southend found it difficult to find their usual passing routine, but when they did, an excellent move involving Smith, Ofori-Acheampong and Julian Okai culminated in substitute Lyle Della-Verde sliding a shot past the right-hand post.

Konstantinou wasted a fine opportunity to get his team back on level terms when he latched onto a long ball over the top of the Blues defence, skewing a right-footed shot off target, and his strike partner found himself thwarted by Chambers when his attempted lob was clutched by the back-peddling shotstopper.

If Stevens' beautifully-caressed early effort in the second period seemed to suggest a change in momentum, it was not a scenario that transpired, with Town's right-winger crashing a cross-shot against the outside of the right-hand upright in the 56th minute.

Northampton replacement Daniel Elmes was next to go close, his curling 20-yard shot grabbed at the second attempt by Chambers as claret-shirted players raced towards him in an attempt to tap home any prospective rebound.

There were chances for Southend; Della-Verde flashed narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area, and Stevens saw a low shot from a similar range turned away by the goalkeeper before Okai slashed wildly across the face of goal after excellent build-up play from Smith and Asante.

Islam's header at the other end was planted wide of the goal as Northampton continued to search for an equaliser, but Asante's added pace represented a new threat for the Cobblers defence and, while they tried to counter-act this, there was still Della-Verde to contend with, the 16-year-old twisting and turning before scooping the ball over.

Blues' second goal finally arrived courtesy of a jubilant Asante. Southend were defending a set-piece on the edge of their own penalty area, with Stevens hooking the ball out and over the top of the Town back-line. Asante seized on the hesitancy of the 'keeper, who was reluctant to come out of his goal, hoisting his shot over him and weighting it perfectly to bounce into the net before wheeling away to celebrate with his team-mates.

Chambers made another excellent save, this time with his legs, to maintain the two-goal advantage, and Smith added to it late on when he became the beneficiary of Asante's square pass after Okai had supplied the forward with a threaded through-ball.

"I have to give Northampton credit as they played well today,"
remarked Duncan. "We had one eye on Wednesday, but you can't afford to do that. On the flip side, we've scored three goals in each of our last five games and we've won today when we haven't played well, and that winning mentality is the secret of a good team."

Southend United:
Luke Chambers, Ryan Auger, Teddy Nesbitt, James Stevens, Louis Baucutt, Anthony Furlonge, Marcus Milner (Lyle Della-Verde 6), Alex Woodyard (Michael Hyland 75), Duane Ofori-Acheampong (Kyle Asante 62), George Smith, Julian Okai.

Substitute not used:
Jack Paxman.

Ofori-Acheampong (13), Asante (82), Smith (90+2).

A reaction from the young Cobblers coach Sean Parrish who, not surprisingly, felt the 3-0 result was an unfair reflection on the balance of play.

Parrish told "Despite the scoreline I was generally pleased with our performance and some of the players who came in really impressed me. I changed things around a bit to give a few of the under-16's a go and they came in and did really well. We conceded early on but we kicked on after that and we played some neat stuff without really threatening the Southend goal. The second goal was a poor one to concede and that killed the game really but the young team we had out did well and they have definitely given me food for thought."

Thanks to the Shrimpers Trust website for the reprinting of these reports, for the Trust's own youth section, go here:

Shrimpers beat Sky Blues to reach fourth round of FA Youth Cup:

Travel with the Trust to see the Under-18's at Pride Park: