Bradford City 2 v 4 Colchester United (National Youth Alliance Cup Final)
Bradford City youth team looked to extend their successful league season by adding a cup triumph when they entertained Colchester United in the Football League Youth Alliance Cup Final at the Coral Windows Stadium.
Colchester started the better of the two teams and they opened the scoring after just three minutes, when James Pollard slipped whilst trying to head the ball back to goalkeeper Elliott Barker, which allowed Michael O’Donoghue to nip in and take the ball around Barker before passing the ball to the waiting Macauley Bonne who tapped the ball into an unguarded goal despite Niall Heaton attempted sliding clearance.
City had the chance to level things up just six minutes later, when Reece Webb-Foster found Oliver McBurnie with a header. McBurnie got the ball under control and started to run at the Colchester goal but as he reached the penalty area Dylan Mottley-Henry took the ball from him and shot at goal, Mottley-Henry’s effort was beaten away by for a corner by Colchester goalkeeper James Bransgrove.
Bradford then went even closer when Sam Wright headed against the post following Niall Heaton’s long throw-in into the area, Reece Webb-Foster then headed the rebound at the Colchester goal but James Bransgrove got low down to his right to push the ball away.
On twenty-three minutes Colchester’s Macauley Bonne appealed for a penalty, when he looked to be goal-side of Niall Heaton whilst in the area chasing down a long ball over the Bradford defence, Bonne and the Colchester bench felt that Heaton had tugged Bonne back when the striker was about to shoot, which left the ball running straight back to Barker in the City goal.
After about thirty-five minutes Niall Heaton was involved again when he got back into position to clear away a goal-bound effort from Colchester’s Sammie Szmodics after the attacker’s angled drive had beaten Elliott Barker at his near post.
As the game continuing to be played a brisk pace, City threatened at the other end barely sixty seconds later, when Reece Webb-Foster fizzed a low cross along the six yard box that just evaded the diving Oliver McBurnie.
After thirty-nine minutes, Colchester doubled their lead when Bonne’s teasing cross into the box eventually found Sammie Szmodics, who managed the simple task of firing past a helpless Barker from close range to give Colchester a 2-0 half-time lead.
At the start of the second half, City had the first meaningful attempt on goal when James King’s shot went over the crossbar from six yards after a teasing delivery from a wide free-kick by Jack Stockdill.
Just before the hour mark, some fine work by Nathan Curtis gave him a few yards space to send the ball across the six yard box, where Oliver McBurnie collected the ball and tapped it into an empty goal from close range to make the score 2-1.
Having pulled a goal back, the large home crowd got right behind the team as Reece Webb-Foster tackled the Colchester skipper and had a shot to the far corner with a curling effort, but his shot from around fourteen yards was pushed away by the Colchester goalkeeper Bransgrove.
Just ten minutes after McBurnie had brought Bradford level, Sammie Szmodics grabbed his second of the evening to restore Colchester’s two-goal advantage. After receiving the ball from Bonne, Szmodics turned inside City’s penalty area before coolly slotting the ball into the far bottom corner.
Bradford then pushed for another goal with a free-kick deep inside the Colchester half, however they were caught by a counter attack when the ball broke to Szmodics who ran clear of the Bradford defence, Rhys Jenkinson tried to keep up with the pacey forward but he got away and ran around Barker in the Bradford goal before slotting into an empty goal.
Bradford continued to fight and despite being in time added on McBurnie had a glancing header following a long throw from Niall Heaton, deep into injury time McBurnie went close again as Moore-Azille clear off the line following another long throw by Heaton.
City’s young striker wasn’t to be denied, when he headed home his and Bradford’s second goal from a Jack Stockdill corner in the ninety-fourth minute, however it was not enough and Colchester won the game 4-2 to lift the youth cup.
Bradford City – Barker, Pollard, Jenkinson, Wright, Heaton, King, Mottley-Henry, Stockdill, McBurnie, Webb-Foster, Curtis (Subs) Hallwood, Brennan, Cissa, Waters, Devine
Colchester United – Bransgrove, Andrews, O’Donoghue, Lapslie, Kent, Moore-Azille, Curtis, Harrison, Bonne, Szmodics, Sembie-Ferris (Subs) Carroll, Brampton, Monk, Smith, Gardiner
Goals – (Bradford City) McBurnie (57,90+4), (Colchester Utd) Bonne (3), Szmodics (39,66,76)
Attendance – 2,714