Fleetwood Town’s Under 18s secured an impressive 4-1 victory over Burton Albion on Saturday in the North West Youth Alliance League.
Two goals from striker Sam O’Halleron, and a goal apiece from Shayden Morris and captain Dylan Boyle sealed another impressive win for the Cod Army youngsters.
Town went into the game on the back of two straight wins, having beat Wrexham 3-0 last weekend, followed by a 5-0 victory against Burnley in the Clarets Cup in midweek.
It was a lively start for Town as Morris nutmegged Tom Armitace and crossed the ball in, but it was well cleared - with Ryan Rydel then hitting an ambitious volley over the bar from distance.
Burton then had a glorious opportunity to take the lead from a corner when defender Regan Lanley’s late run into the box at the back post wasn't tracked. He headed back across goal and full-back Ben Hart headed over from yards out.
Town made Burton pay for that missed chance as they took the lead in the 15th minute with a brilliant team goal. Boyle played the ball out to Barry Crowe on the left, he took on his man and delivered the perfect cross for O’Halleron, who made no mistake in converting his header from close range.
Crowe was proving to be a threat for the Burton defence as he then had two efforts from range in quick succession - but both failed to hit the target.
Burton pushed for an equaliser as midfielder Ciaran Gilligan broke into the box, crossed the ball across goal and striker Kyle Clamp almost got on the end of it.
Left-back Armitace then crossed the ball in to striker Tyo Carter, whose header from close range was guided just wide.
Clamp then had a chance when Nathan Morley launched a long throw into the box, and the Burton striker turned and shot just over.
With 41 minutes gone, Town claimed their second goal of the game. O’Halleron turned provider as he picked the ball up and played in Morris, who’s low shot found the bottom left corner, leaving Smith with no chance.
It was another devastating move on the counter attack by Town, whose precise passing and speed on the break was too much for the Burton defence to cope with.
The Cod Army started the second half well as another counter-attack almost produced a third goal. Crowe played in a through ball to Morris on the right, and he closed in on goal, hitting a low effort that was well saved by Smith.
Burton made a number of changes as they looked for a route back into the game. Substitute forward Jack Holmes was denied by Town goalkeeper Scott Pengelly, and Holmes then played fellow sub Emmanuel Shittu in on goal – he smashed his effort into the top corner but was flagged offside.
Town were then rightly aggrieved when Boyle’s long ball over the top found O’Halleron just inside the opposition half and after heading the ball past the onrushing Smith, he was wiped out by the Burton number one.
The referee deemed the incident worthy of a yellow card for the Burton keeper, but O’Halleron would’ve surely scored his second of the game had he not been fouled.
As it happened, O’Halleron has to wait just three minutes to get his second with a sensational individual goal.
He collected the ball from a throw-in near the corner flag, turned his marker, dribbled the ball down the byline and took on two Burton defenders, before getting past Smith and slotting into the empty net. It was no more than O’Halleron deserved for his relentless work rate and determination to latch onto every loose ball.
With 20 minutes to go, Town brought on Jay Matete and Anthony Williams as they looked to protect their three-goal advantage. Katlego Mashigo and Carl Johnston made way having put in a solid shift in the heart of Town’s midfield three. Full back Ryan Rydel, operating in defensive midfield this week, also put in a brilliant display.
O’Halleron was causing Burton all sorts of problems as his trickery on the left saw him ease past Rueben Lal and cross the ball in, but it was cleared before Matete could capitalise at the back post.
Burton then pulled one back as Gilligan’s cross was cleared to substitute Charlie Oddy on the edge of the box, and his first-time curling strike sailed into the top right corner.
Both sides finished the game with ten men after Burton defender Lanley pushed O’Halleron, who was making his way off the pitch having been substituted in the 85th minute.
As the refereed seemingly judged O’Halleron to be time wasting, he branded both players their second yellow card of the game as both sides finished with 10 men. It was a harsh end to the game for the Town goalscorer, who did very little wrong in the incident.
Despite both sides being a man down, Town’s attack did not relent as Morris was fouled, having been through on goal - Crowe curled the resulting free-kick inches wide.
With two minutes to go, Town claimed a fourth goal as Morris’ low cross from the right was diverted goalwards by Crowe, and Smith produced a good reaction save. However it was to no avail as Boyle was quickest to react, firing the rebound into the bottom corner from close range.
In added time, Burton almost claimed a second as Hart picked the ball up at the back post and hit a low effort that beat Pengelly, but Alkeo Bani cleared brilliantly off the line.
The referee then blew for full-time as Town claimed a 4-1 win to secure their third straight victory in all competitions, with 12 goals scored in the process.
Town XI: Pengelly, Boyle ©, Hill (Steer 74’), Bani, Goldsborough, Rydel, Mashigo (Williams 70’), Johnston (Matete 70’), Morris, Crowe, O’Halleron.
Subs not used: Clayton, Makepeace.
Burton XI: Smith, Hart, Armitace (Shittu 57’), Melhado (Hickson 57’), Lanley, Lal, Vale ©, Gilligan (Oddy 81’), Clamp (Holmes 45’), Carter (Mallass 72’), Morley.