Ethan Williams in action for United

FA Youth Cup: Stoke City 1 Manchester United 0

Wednesday 11 January 2023 21:11

Manchester United's defence of the FA Youth Cup has come to an end in the fourth round following a narrow defeat to Stoke City.

A Josh Bickerton free-kick was the key difference on the night, with his effort taking a decisive deflection off Ethan Williams to wrong-foot Reds goalkeeper Elyh Harrison. 

Travis Binnion's side had plenty of opportunities to score, but a stellar performance from Tommy Simkin between the sticks for Stoke kept the Youth Cup holders at bay. 

Despite our players' best efforts, the finishing touch could not be found at the Bet365 Stadium.

Tommy Simkin was a difference maker in goal for the hosts.
The opening 45 minutes was relatively stagnated, with a handful of stoppages disrupting the rhythm on several occasions. 

Stoke had the first effort on goal six minutes into the game, when captain Emre Tezgel went on a winding run into United’s half before a tame long-range effort was gathered by Harrison. 

The Reds enjoyed plenty of spells of sustained possession, but it would take half an hour before the dominance yielded a first real effort on goal. Ethan Williams collected the ball just outside the area, unleashing a fierce strike that was blocked and ultimately saved comfortably by Simkin in the Stoke goal. 
After both sides were forced into an early change due to injuries, the game began to open up more and Victor Musa would have United’s best chances of the half. Up for a corner, Louis Jackson played a teasing ball into the box but Musa’s header was straight at Simkin. The United striker produced a shot on target yet again in stoppage time, but his instinctive effort was blocked.  

In the lead up to half-time, Stoke had the opportunity to break the deadlock twice but both headers forced assured saves out of Harrison. The best of these attempts fell to Nathan Lowe who towered above Sam Murray at the back post, but he couldn’t get enough power on it. 
Musa had United's best chances of the first half.
Five minutes into the second half, another chance went begging for Binnion’s side. A sublime cross towards the back post from Adam Berry was met by Musa, who had a free header but couldn’t guide it on target to trouble the keeper. 

Six minutes later, the hosts took the lead. Bickerton stepped up to take a free-kick on the edge of the area, and despite firing it into the wall, it took a huge deflection off Williams to wrongfoot Harrison and fly into the bottom corner. 

Chasing the game, Maxi Oyedele forced a magnificent save from the Potters' shot-stopper after a driving run forward opened up the space for him to unleash a powerful strike from distance.

Reds captain Dan Gore displayed brilliant skill on the edge of the area to shift away from the Stoke defenders and shoot but his effort went narrowly wide. 

Binnion's side made a valiant effort, but our Youth Cup run is over for this season. 

Oyedele came close to a sublime long-range goal but was thwarted by a fantastic Simkin save.


Stoke: Simkin; Curi, Grogan, Griffin, Bickerton (Asplin-Rowley 74); Smith (Hayder 34), Sidibe; Challinor, Tezgel, Griffiths; Lowe. 

Unused substitutes: Angina, Houston, Asplin-Rowley, Lusakeuno, Laird, Maskall. 

Goals: Bickerton 57. 

United: Harrison; Nolan (Lacey 86), Aljofree, Jackson, Murray; Oyedele, Gore; Williams, Moorehouse (Berry 32), Musa; Norkett (Kingdon 71). 

Unused substitutes: Wooster (GK), Fitzgerald, Scanlon, Munro. 

Booked: Williams 54, Oyedele 84.