Cambridge United marched towards the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup with an authoritative 4-2 victory against Stevenage at the Abbey Stadium...
In an action-packed second period, Jimmy Unwin’s boys came out of the blocks firing through quickfire strikes from Kai Yearn and Faruq Usman. Although Jake Watkiss reduced matters, Jaydyn Lott popped up with a stern header before Yearn secured a double to ensure Kymani Skyers’ finish at the death was just a consolation as they now prepare for a visit to Portsmouth or Three Bridges in the next stage.
The U’s, who last season equalled their best-ever run in the competition when they reached the Fifth Round, were out to make headlines once more – they arrived in good form following a 3-3 draw against Gillingham and a 4-0 thrashing of Lincoln City last time out.
United, who had six players in their XI which started in the aforementioned Last 16 clash in February, played out an industrious opening, with Ty Ewans-Findlay dissecting the visitors’ defence twice with long balls which were fractions offside.
On the 14th minute, Stevenage had the ball in the back of the net. It was brief, however, as Theo Alexandrou was deemed offside after capitalising on Lott’s slice and nestling into an open net.
Virtually straight up the other end, Unwin’s team generated a great move when Faruq Usman marauded down the left before floating a long cross to Yearn whose neat connection was well claimed by Ignas Sakalas.
Prior to the half an hour mark, Sam Tinubu played David Hicks through on goal – the midfielder had the time to compose himself but couldn’t latch past an alert Tom Finch who made an excellent save.
In the last notable attempt of the first period, Liam Chadwick’s attempt on the outskirts of the box caused a scramble which was concluded by the lively Glenn McConnell’s acrobatic attempt which flashed over the crossbar on 32.
The young U’s entered the field of play after the break in a no-nonsense, clinical fashion – shattering the deadlock just a minute in when Lott’s deadly delivery picked out a looming Yearn at the back post who made no mistake with his head.
With 49 minutes on the clock, they were celebrating once again when Usman capitalised on a defensive mishap from Boro, before keeping his cool to round the goalkeeper and poke home to ensure a healthy advantage.
The visitors inflicted an immediate response, reducing matters on the 57th minute when Makise Evans raced to the byline and invitingly drilled a low ball to J. Watkiss who plundered into the net with a fierce finish.
Showing no signs of surrendering the lead, United’s two-goal advantage was restored on 75th when the imposing Lott rose highest to thump home a header.
Five minutes later, Yearn caused havoc again and grabbed his brace after originally rattling the post, before Dan Barton recycled to tee up the England youth international to slot goal bound.
Skyers registered a consolation in the dying embers of the encounter, but it proved to be nothing more than that as the hosts’ passage into the next round had already been secured in convincing style.
Cambridge United: Finch, Sandiford, Ewans-Findlay, Lott, Scales, Chadwick (Winterbone, 74), McConnell (Ismali, 79), Barton, Hoddle, Usman (Kaunda, 68), Yearn
Subs Not Used: Briggs, Staszewski, Habib, Tyler-Cowlin
Goalscorers: Yearn (46’, 80’), Usman (49’), Lott (75’)
Bookings: Chadwick, McConnell
Stevenage: Sakalas, Tekasala, Gilzean, Cochrane, Skyers, Giroud, Tinubu, Champness (Stanley, 70), J. Watkiss (O’Keefe, 84), Hicks (Evans, 52), Alexandrou
Subs Not Used: S. Watkiss, Bates, Salik, Oladiran
Goalscorers: J. Watkiss (58)