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Salford City U18s 2-3 Carlisle United U18s, Ethan Rhodes, FA Youth Cup, The Peninsula StadiumSalford City’s Under-18s crashed out of the FA Youth Cup after Carlisle United came from 2-0 down to win 2-3 at The Peninsula Stadium.

An Ethan Rhodes brace coming from a goal in either half looked to have put Salford on their way to the Second Round for a second successive year.

However Carlisle’s Taylor Charters pulled one back almost immediately after Salford’s second and Lewis Bell pulled them level before captain Tom Wilson headed the winner in the 84th minute.

On a brisk evening at The Peninsula Stadium with October drawing to a close, Salford’s youngsters started on the front foot and pushed Carlisle back. In the third minute Cameron Hill lifted a long ball forward into the area which Taylor Dyson glanced goalwards, but Isaac Robinson got across to his post to make the save.

The visitors tried to respond by putting Salford under some pressure at the back themselves, but no one could get on the end of two Jamie Armstrong crosses, and Charters’ sights weren’t quite set as he fired wide from outside the area, under little pressure.

Not a bad start to the match, and it was Salford who took the lead in the 16th minute. The chance actually came from the back as Marley Armstrong tracked his man, namesake Jamie, and blocked a shot. Salford won the loose ball and Clayton Gorman started advancing when he spotted the run of Rhodes down the left, and expertly picked out the winger. Left with a decision to make Robinson chose to come and close Rhodes down, but his misjudgement in distance allowed Rhodes the space behind to clip the ball over the oncoming ‘keeper, and Rhodes made no mistake and kept his composure to pull the lob off.

Salford City U18s 2-3 Carlisle United U18sIt was the control that Salford needed to start managing the game, and they continued to keep Carlisle at arm’s length while prodding the odd jab. In the 21st minute Douglas James-Taylor shot wide from outside the area, but a minute later was perfectly placed as Dyson hit a shot which deflected – unknowingly – off the forward. Fortunately for Carlisle, Robinson was on the balls of his feet and got across to gather the shot.

The visitors tried to cause a couple of problems in the Salford area just before the half hour mark as Charters’ cross was headed behind for a corner. Salford cleared, but another cross came in and nearly dropped for Ryan Swailes but he couldn’t connect and Rhodes cleared.

At the other end Will Hall lifted a volley over the bar from a narrow angle after Rhodes’ cross on the left. A similar corner routine saw Will Shepherd inject for Hill, but the centre-back couldn’t quite reach the cross and it skimmed off his head and behind. James-Taylor would have one more chance before the half was out, but he couldn’t adjust to Gorman’s cross and headed over.

The young Ammies started the second half on the front foot again and after Dyson’s half hearted shouts for a penalty following a Charlie Birch challenge were waved away, he set up James-Taylor but the forward’s shot was well wide.

His next involvement a couple of minutes later was more critical though as his powerful cross from the right wasn’t held onto by Robinson at his near post, under pressure from Shepherd. The ball may even have crossed the line, but in the absence of VAR play was allowed to continue for a whole few seconds before Rhodes slammed the clearance into an empty net from a couple of yards out – no doubting that went over!

However Carlisle weren’t happy to accept Salford were two goals better than them and pulled one back nearly straight from the restart. A ball out to Bell was crossed into the area from the left where Charters arrived unmarked and in perfect time to head past William Evans.

Salford City U18s 2-3 Carlisle United U18sThe goal sparked something amongst Carlisle, and in the 61st minute only a brilliant sliding challenge from Hall denied substitute Ethan Henderson a one-on-one with Evans. They found the second breakthrough five minutes later though as a free kick was injected from deep, Salford failed to clear and Bell poked past a stranded Evans to bring Carlisle onto level terms.

From here on in The Cumbrians controlled the game and should have taken the lead when Liam Lightfoot met a Jamie Armstrong corner, but he could only head over.

Salford brought on Sam Twist for Dyson and switched to a 4-4-2 formation. Immediately it gave them impetus to get forward and Twist fed Gorman through on the right but his cross was cleared for a corner which came to nothing.

Carlisle continued to push forward in the final 10 minutes though, and Bell’s powerful effort from outside the area was saved. Shortly afterwards his cross from the left was cleared behind by Hill for a corner which Jamie Armstrong delivered right onto the head of Wilson who nodded Carlisle in front for the first time with a header into the far post.

Things could have been worse for Salford as a free kick was delivered from the left, deep to the back post where Charlie Barnes put a ball across goal but Evans pounced on it and cleared.

FULL TIME: Salford City U18s 2-3 Carlisle United U18s

Congratulations to Carlisle and good luck in the next round. A disappointing outcome for the young Ammies in the end, particularly having been 2-0 up, but there are lessons to be learned and as long as they are learned then there is no harm in defeat. There is still an exciting season unfolding in the EFL Youth Alliance, and there are still hopes of progressing in the EFL Youth Cup.