By Jack Heale: "I am currently studying Journalism at the University of Salford and working as a freelance football writer for various outlets, including The FA Young Reporters’ Club, with the ambition of becoming a fully qualified sports journalist."
Manchester City booked their place in the FA Youth Cup Final following a remarkable display and 4-2 win against West Bromwich Albion.
In front of a well-populated Academy Stadium with a mix of the Blues and Baggies’ fans in the ground, supporters were joined by former City stars in Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott, with Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta also observing from above.
And the game was open from the start. Less than ten minutes in, City full-back Jeremie Frimpong drove forward down the left and found Adrian Bernarbe out wide. His low cross was swept home by Ben Knight to open the scoring.
City dominated the early stages of the game with wave after wave of attacks as West Brom struggled to get a hold of the ball in midfield and struggling to forge an opening.
But then, Jamie Soule equalised against the run of play as the Baggies took advantage of a possession turnover and moved towards City’s 18-year-box. The ball was worked back to Soule, who finished remarkably as his shot rocketed off the post and into the back of the net.
The Baggies nearly went ahead just before half time when City defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis, rather uncharacteristically, slipped to lose possession deep into City’s half. Morgan Rogers’ effort looked to have beat Louie Moulden between the City sticks, but Harwood-Bellis recovered in time to clear it off the line.
In the second half, City came out fighting to put give themselves some breathing space in the fixture.
And when Tommy Doyle received the ball from deep and drove forward with space to attack, his vicious effort left Josh Griffiths helpless as it flew into the left-hand corner and put City back in the lead.
Their lead was extended after 76-minutes when one of Doyle’s pinpoint corners was flicked on by Knight and the ball found itself into the far corner of the goal to make the score 3-1.
The tie was far from done though, as Albion pounced on a lapse of concentration at the back from City, with Soule this time turning provider as he nicked the ball off Doyle and set up Rayhaan Tulloch to fire in from close range.
City substitute Henri Ogunby came on in the latter stages and made an instant impact. He drove down the right wing, beating his man, before cutting back inside and crossing on his left foot to Felix Nmecha.
England U19s ace Nmecha, who had rattled the bar earlier on with an effort, made no mistake this time as he controlled the ball on his chest before volleying into the bottom-left corner to seal the score line.
City now face Liverpool in the Final, which will be hosted at the Academy Stadium.