Fleetwood Town Under-18s lost out to Bristol City on penalties in Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup at Highbury Stadium on Monday evening.
After an opening two minutes where both sides tried to get a feel of the game, it was the Cod Army who tested the opposition goalkeeper first as Billy Batch’s cross from the left had Luca Smith scrambling between City’s sticks, but he eventually claimed the ball.
Cian Hayes then had a good opportunity to advance forward soon after as he stormed through a crowd of purple shirts but was dispossessed - the ball fell to another red shirt in Edwards though and Town advanced furthermore, but nothing came from the attacks that followed.
Twenty minutes in, it was Bristol City’s turn to drive forward as Prince Henry led the attack and won a free-kick after a foul from Akiel Raffie. Ayman Benarous stood over the free-kick, but it hit the Fleetwood wall and was deflected for a corner from which City couldn’t earn anything from.
Momentum did follow with The Robins as Benarous drifted a ball into Fleetwood’s box, but Sam Barratt cleared away, only as far as Marlee Francois though who half-volleyed his effort just wide.
On the half-hour mark, Town almost broke the deadlock after a superb play from Joe Collins on the wing, as he pulled the ball back to Enoch Takpe whose effort went the wrong side of the post.
After a short period of not much action, Town started to settle with the ball, Batch’s balls into the box proving testing for the Bristol City defence with the latest one hitting the top of the crossbar and going out for goal-kick.
Not long before half-time the Cod Army really found some rhythm as Hayes and Raffie combined well to squeeze Hayes into the opposition box, the latter was clipped by a City defender which created protests from everyone in red, but the linesman had already flagged for offside.
Fleetwood started the second half as they finished the first, the team dominating the play - Hayes was menacing down the left as he drove forward past two purple shirts, he laid it off to Takpe who helped the ball on the way to Collins on the right who was fouled on the edge of the box. Hayes stood over the free-kick 18 yards out, but his free-kick went wide.
The deadlock was broken as the Robins took the lead on the 55th minute - Alex Scott went down under Harry Wilson’s pressure on the edge of the box, and the City man who won the free-kick stood over it - the dead-ball effort was curled into the back of the next, around the wall from 20 yards.
After the goal, it was a cagey affair between the two with not too much between the two sides apart from The Robins’ one-goal advantage as neither goalkeeper was tested.
With fifteen minutes to go Town went searching for the equaliser as it was an immediate welcome to play for Jake Wallace as his attempted cross was blocked for a corner, nothing came from the corner but momentum for the Cod Army followed.
It was good work from Takpe to hold the ball up, he set Collins up who flicked it over the defender for Bird, but his strike flew over the bar.
Bristol City had a glorious chance to double their advantage as Henry capitalised on a short clearance from Eastham, but his effort from 3 yards out clattered the woodwork.
Town got their deserved equaliser with seven minutes to go as Sam Bird rose the highest at the back post over his man and guided a gorgeous header into the far post past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
In the last five minutes, the Cod Army had to dig deep to any Bristol City attack as it was brave last ditch defending by Barratt to block off Henry’s effort on goal.
In the dying embers of the 90, Fleetwood went agonisingly close to doubling their advantage as Collins and Raffie both saw their efforts clawed off the line and saved by L.Smith.
Within the first few minutes of extra time, Town tested City’s defence as Raffie burst into the box through the crowd of purple to get into a good position but ran into danger as Khari Allen was there to slide in to halt that attack.
A minute to go until the first period was over and Raffie’s effort on target stung the palms of Smith yet no one in red could capitalise on the ‘keepers parry and City cleared their lines.
A chance came for Fleetwood as Barratt won the ball in the centre of the park, cutely drifted a ball out to the left for Hayes, his first touch was perfect to get away from his man and create a yard to get a strike away, but L.Smith was equal to it.
A flurry of chances for Fleetwood came as Covy Smith’s header was denied by Luca Smith in a spectacular fashion, the chance that followed was Thompson’s strike from the edge of the 18-yard box nestled the side netting.
Minutes to go and the Cod Army came forward once more as Hayes and the rest of the Fleetwood side claimed for a penalty, but the referee wasn’t interested, Thompson’s strike which followed made L.Smith work between the sticks but Bristol emphatically cleared their lines.
With the scoreline level, the game headed to penalty kicks to decide the final outcome where Bristol rode out 4-2 winners in the end to progress to the next round.
Town XI: Eastham (GK), Bird, Batch, Wilson, Feeney, Barratt, Collins, Raffie, Takpe (76’ Smith), Edwards (66’ Thompson), Hayes.
Subs not used: Borwick, Patterson, Hoyle, Wallace, Sithole, Smith.
Bristol City XI: Smith, Leeson, Allen, Bell, Wood, Kadji, Francois (91’ Williams), Taylor-Clarke (55’ Thuo), Henry, Scott (C), Benarous (75’ Lewis).
Subs not used: Casa Grande (GK), Sage, Lewis, Palmer-Houlden, Blackwell.