Salford City’s FA Youth Cup campaign came to an end on Wednesday night in the Third Round after a 4-1 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 1958 winners took a commanding 3-0 lead into half time after goals from Nathan Fraser, Owen Farmer and Tyler Roberts, with Ollie Tipton also missing a penalty, while Finn Bartram hit the bar for Salford.
Half time substitute Ben Finley pulled a goal back for Salford in the second half for a much-improved Ammies, but Roberts added a second to confirm Wolves’ passage into the Fourth Round.
The hosts, playing back at Molineux for the first time since before the Covid pandemic, settled quickly in possession and didn’t threaten too much until around the 10th minute when they took the lead. Midfielder Roberts floated in a cross from the right that Fraser glanced across goal, with the header taking a deflection on its way out for a corner. Salford struggled to clear their lines and after Brad Rose’s clearance dropped for Farmer, the midfielder clipped a cross back in that Fraser guided home with his head.
Within a minute it could have been two as Roberts’ run wasn’t picked up, but his shot was blocked by team mate Fraser just. Inside the box. The front man was a handful in the area and in the 16th minute he knocked the ball past Cerny Ando before being brought down by the centre-back. Captain Tipton stepped up to take the spot kick, but sent it wide to the right.
Wolves were dominating on their home pitch and duly doubled their lead after a run by Harry Birtwistle on the right wasn’t tracked. He crossed low into the middle where Farmer turned it in at the near post, the top scorer adding to his five-goal tally this season.
Just before the half-hour mark Liam Humbles found space to shoot from distance for Salford, but his effort cleared the goal. Bartram went closer a few minutes later after with some nifty footwork opening up half a yard, but his rising shot skimmed off the crossbar.
After a couple of warning Wolves regained some control and Fraser missed a glaring opportunity six minutes before the break after Jacob Lara gave possession away. The striker turned and drove through the middle of the pitch unchallenged, but he blazed over.
However a third goal did come before the break when Roberts added his name to the scoresheet for the first time; a long ball up the right was chased to the by-line where Cerny Ando slid in to shepherd it out of play, but Roberts managed to keep the ball in and kept his composure to fire across Rose.
HALF TIME: Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-18s 3-0 Salford City Under-18s
There was a double change after the break for Salford as Finley and Harvey Walsh came on, adding more presence to Salford’s attack, although Roberts had an early chance that he drilled wide.
After that the young Ammies were more intense, forcing errors, and Humbles won possession in the middle before spreading a pass to the right for Walsh. His cross into the area was concerning for Wolves, but Palmi Arinbjornsson gathered before Pedro could get a touch.
There wasn’t much the Icelandic could have done though to keep Salford’s consolation in the 55th minute out after he was left stranded by his defence. The visitors won possession in the middle and worked it right, but Finley was in acres of space on the left and didn’t hesitate when the pass came into him, calmly slotting away his shot first time.
That goal ushered a response from Wolves, and Birtwistle’s advances on the right were nearly rewarded with a goal but Rose stood strong at his near post to save, with the subsequent corner cleared. Fortune wasn’t on Salford’s side though as Wolves restored their three-goal cushion, closing down Lucas Berry’s clearance with Roberts benefitting by firing in his second of the evening.
Not giving up just yet, good running by Walsh in the final 10 minutes earned a corner that picked out Walsh at the back stick; he controlled and cut in onto his left but Arinbjornsson saved. Wolves were then left exposed again as Bartram’s cross was only half-cleared to Donovan Lescott on the left, but his bending effort was saved.
Walsh has scored in each of the two previous rounds, and was unlucky not to make it a full house as his looping header from Kyle Cooper’s deep cross bounced up off the bar. Wolves scrambled underneath and Dexter Lembikisa headed away for a corner that his side subsequently cleared.
FULL TIME: Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-18s 4-1 Salford City Under-18s
A valiant and improved second half performance, but the Under-18s are again stumped by Premier League opposition in the Third Round. Still a fantastic experience, and thanks to Wolves for hosting us at Molineux; best wishes in the next round.
The tie brought to an end an unnatural run of home games in the competition, but the support was brilliant with the travelling Ammies vocal throughout. Attention now returns to regaining top spot in the EFL Youth Alliance North West, and the chance to progress in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.