Andy’s Angles: New first-teamers, two good goals, standing firm and plenty of potential - Town’s youngsters through in FA Youth Cup
PUBLISHED: 15:50 16 November 2019 | UPDATED: 20:07 16 November 2019
Ipswich Town beat Exeter City 2-1 to reach the third round of the FA Youth Cup this afternoon. ANDY WARREN gives his observations.
Ipswich Town's Under 18s are safely through to round three of the FA Youth Cup following their 2-1 victory over Exeter City this afternoon.
The hosts were always in control at Portman Road, with Connor O'Reilly and Colin Oppong finding the net in the opening period to put the tie beyond their visitors.
They were given a scare when visiting captain Louis Morison superbly headed home for Exeter, reducing the deficit, but the young Blues were ultimately able to see the job through and secure their place in the third round.
The first goal had seemed to have been coming since kick-off, with the young Blues on the front foot and having the ball in the net early before Zak Brown's effort was ruled out for a foul. But the hosts were ahead after just five minutes.
It came through right-back O'Reilly, who got forward well once again to find the top corner with a good effort.
Ipswich dominated the game from there, stretching the Exeter defence time and again without creating too many clear-cut chances. When one did arrive, forward Tyreece Simpson could only drag shot across goal after controlling the ball well.
Town were having joy down the flanks, with their second goal coming from a good move on the left before Oppong turned and smashed the ball into the back of the net past Jack Arthur in the Exeter goal.
They continued to put together attacking moves before the interval, after which Simpson fired a rocket of a shot which bounced back off the post.
Ipswich were well on top but did have to soak up a little pressure, with goalkeeper Jake Alley spreading himself superbly to keep out Ben Chrisene, before Simpson had another shot saved by Arthur.
Morison's goal was celebrated wildly by the travelling Exeter contingent and Ipswich needed Alley to be alert again to claw substitute Ellis Johnson's effort out with 10 minutes to go.
But Ipswich held firm and were able to secure their place in round three.
The new debutant
Liam Gibbs was given his senior debut on Tuesday evening at Colchester, catapulting the youngster into the top 10 of Ipswich's Town's youngest debutants at just 16 years and 331 days.
He was given a start in the No.10 role in this game, playing behind Oppong and eventually Simpson, where he kept the ball and moved it on well.
His creative work didn't always come off but he kept on playing, while also having a couple of dangerous dribbles.
There was no role in this game for Tawanda Chirewa, who became Ipswich's second youngest player ever on Tuesday night, with the midfielder yet to make his debut at Under 18 level.
Don't forget about me
Simpson may well have been involved in the Blues' EFL Trophy game at Colchester on Tuesday night, were it not for a troublesome pelvic injury.
That meant he missed out on a second senior appearance, having performed well as a substitute against Tottenham's Under 21s earlier this season.
The teenager, who has a rugby background and has previously been looked at by Manchester City, played wide left in this game and was busy throughout, using his pace and power to test Exeter right-back Jack Veale.
His thunderous 25-yard effort came flying back off the post just a few minutes into the second half before he had a low shot saved after switching to a central role as he contributed throughout.
So who could be next?
If you watch these games with a first-team head on, the natural thought is to look for players who could make the jump into the senior set-up.
It's going to be tough to break into manager Paul Lambert's plans, given the strength and size of the Town boss's senior squad, but there was no shortage of talent on display in this game.
Simpson and Gibbs have already appeared in the EFL Trophy, of course, and that same competition could give another youngster or two the chance to make their bows.
Right winger Brown, the younger brother of former Ipswich and now Chelsea hot prospect Charlie, is skilful, direct and quick to make good decisions.
O'Reilly is an attacking full-back, keen to support his man further up the field and get into the box, while Oppong is a powerful frontman who can operate with his back to goal.
There were plenty of good performances across the pitch, though, with Alley coming up big when needed between the sticks, captain Alex Henderson vocal throughout and substitute Allan Viral looking neat and tidy after coming on.
Ipswich have been drawn away to Peterborough in the first knockout round of the Trophy, which is the most likely route for any of the above to be given a first opportunity.
In reality, though, taking on leading roles for the Under 23s would be the natural progression for this group of talented teenagers.
What the manager said
Speaking after the game, Under 18s manager Adem Atay said: "The dressing is a little bit flat right now because they know they can perform better than that.
"Exeter brought a different challenge in the second half so credit to them, but we felt we were a bit naive in our style and decision-making.
"Jake Alley has made two fantastic saves to keep us in the game as we were on the back foot.
"If Tyreece's thunderbolt shot goes in at 3-0, it makes it a different game. It didn't so the lads had a new experience and two contrasting halves, but it is all about learning and those individuals who learn the quickest will progress in their journey.
"These types of games in stadiums have different challenges playing Cardiff, Exeter and King's Lynn, they give different experiences that can only be positive for the boys in their development."
The draw for round three of the competition has already been made, with the winners due to face Cardiff City in the next round.
That game needs to be played by December 14.
Ipswich Town U18s: Alley; O'Reilly, Fehrenbach, Henderson, Smith; Healy (Cutbush 64), Alexander; Brown, Gibbs, Simpson (Ruffles 83); Oppong (Viral 59)
Subs: Wyss, Bort, Baker, Reed
Exeter City U18s: Arthur, Veale, Clark, Morison, Pond, Stafford, Chrisene, Moyse (Z Collins 88), Wilson, Lovett (Johnson), Iseguan
Subs: Fuller, Nicholson, E Collins