Despite dominating possession and creating a host of chances, our under-18s were knocked out in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup on Saturday, slipping to a 2-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion.
Bukayo Saka scored his 10th goal of the season in all competitions, while Tyreece John-Jules made his return from injury as a substitute, but we would ultimately be made to pay for a slow start at Meadow Park.
Ken Gillard would have hoped to have seen his side pick up from where they left off in their 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur last week, but the opening exchanges belonged to the visitors.
Rayhaan Tulloch provided an early warning after firing wide from a dangerous position before Jamie Soule opened the scoring in the 7th minute, racing through on goal to find the bottom left corner.
This sparked a reaction from our frontline, as Xavier Amaechi, Folarin Balogun and Saka started to combine in the final third.
The latter came closest to scoring when latching onto a delicate pass from Ben Cottrell, before Saka rattled the crossbar with a powerful effort from inside the area.
We continued to push forward in search of an equaliser - and on the half-hour mark we found just that following a well-worked free-kick routine.
Matt Smith’s delivery caused havoc inside the Baggies area and Saka was the first to react, firing home from close range.
Following the break, Saka came close to finding two golden opportunities, but the Baggies defence - sitting deep in their own half - were able to clear their lines on both occasions.
However, despite starting the second half in such a positive manner, the visitors were able to restore their lead against the run of play.
In a sweeping counter from back to front, the ball dropped to Finn Azas on the left wing, who fired past the onrushing Arthur Okonkwo from close range.
With less than five minutes remaining Balogun leapt high inside the box to meet Amaechi’s cross, but the 17-year-old headed narrowly wide of the far post, ensuring victory for the visitors.
Gillard’s side must now turn their attention to their Under-18 Premier League clash against Leicester City on Tuesday, February 19.
The game will take place at Leicester City Training Ground with kick-off at 12pm (UK time).
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