Salford City’s Under-18s qualified for the Second Round of the FA Youth Cup after a comfortable 3-0 win against Blyth Spartans.
Striker Harvey Walsh scored twice after Djavan Pedro’s opener, while the visitors from the North East rarely threatened.
It follows on from a decent start to the league campaign for Luke Morgan’s side, and the young Ammies can look forward to competing in the Second Round for a second consecutive season.
However the Academy Manager feels there’s more to come still from his side;
“Result wise it’s a cup game and it’s all about getting the win, the positive is getting a clean sheet and scoring three goals but there’s a lot to work on.
“The lads aren’t too happy with the performance, we’re not and there’s a lot of areas to work on; we were sloppy in possession, but when you keep a clean sheet you always give yourself a chance and we’re into the second round which is what it’s all about, but we can be a lot better.”
Having come through four qualifying rounds, Blyth started the game on the front foot and in the second minute nearly opened Salford up but Ben Collins had tracked the run and blocked the effort for a corner that Salford cleared.
That was enough of a warning as the young Ammies clicked into gear, Kelly N’Mai combining well with Collins on the left before the latter’s rising drive was saved. N’Mai also set up a chance that just escaped Walsh in the seventh minute, but within 60 seconds Salford were in front anyway. Again possession was won on the left and Collins delivered a great cross that Pedro met from a few yards out to head beyond Callum Elliott.
The young forward has been out on loan at City of Liverpool this season, and in the 13th minute he was brought down on the left which resulted in a free kick for Salford; Liam Humbles delivered a tempting cross that Walsh met from a few yards out, uncontested, but headed over.
The home side were looking at ease and doubled the lead in the 26th minute when Walsh scored at the near post from a Liam Humbles free-kick on the left, and he could have quickly added a second a moment later as Ben Finley sent him clean through on the right, but under pressure he didn’t fully catch the shot and fired wide.
Attacks were flowing forward regularly now and after N’Mai had a near post effort saved by Elliott, the keeper then kept out Pedro after a through ball from Finley. Just before the break Lucas Kirnon pushed forward on the right, nutmegging his marker before seeing his shot deflected wide and the full back got up at the back post from the following corner but headed over. Alfie Henderson also had a late chance, winning possession in the middle and reaching the box before flashing a shot across goal and wide.
Blyth re-grouped at the break and again had the first opening of the second half, but Brad Rose saved well to deny Rio Joisce from distance before Jamie Norvell fired well over.
However Salford soon grasped control back in the game and on the hour Finley lifted a shot over from the left of the area after good work by N’Mai. Kirnon was then felled in a central position with Henderson taking responsibility for the free kick, 25 yards out, and his strike was on target with Elliott spilling the effort, but with no one chasing the shot in the Blyth stopper gathered the loose ball at the second attempt.
The visitors had a big chance to pull a goal back with 15 minutes to go when Jay Errington tore through the middle, but Finn Bartram tracked his run and at the edge of the box put in a timely block.
A few minutes later the ball was in the net for Salford again after a good move that started on the left with a flick by Donovan Lescott and a square pass into Walsh. The forward returned the ball to substitute Lescott whose shot was parried straight into the path of Henderson, but as he wheeled away the offside flag went up.
Walsh would have a couple more opportunities, including a shot that was deflected onto the post, but in the second minute of added time he finally scored his second of the night. N’Mai did brilliantly to set the goal up, driving up the left, regaining his feet after slipping, and clipping a pass into the six-yard box where Walsh arrived to score and send Salford through to the next round.
All in all Morgan was still pleased with the efforts of the team, particularly at the back after a largely untroubled defence kept a clean sheet.
“Harvey lives off goals, he’s an out and out goal scorer and he’s got very clever movement, both his goals were from about three yards out but a goal’s a goal and that’s what he’s like.
“Brad in net, he’s got high standards, he wants to keep clean sheets, he’s set himself targets for clean sheets and he sets the standard at the back. But Lucas Berry that’s his first game back for about six weeks and I thought he was outstanding, I think Kyle Cooper next to him, young lad, first year to step into the game like he did set the tone.”
Salford will host Port Vale in the Second Round, with the tie needing to be played by Saturday 20th November.