FA Youth Cup Report: Swindon 3 Birmingham City 2

Swindon came from behind twice to earn a 3-2 victory over Birmingham this evening, including a brace from Miles Storey, writes Lee Townsend.

It was a very wet, very cold and windy evening at the county ground for Swindon’s FA Youth Cup third round game with Birmingham being the visitors. The starting lineup for Swindon was identical to what started against Newport County in the first round a few weeks ago.

Swindon were clearly up for the challenge as in the first minute as striker Miles Storey broke away down the left but unfortunately his cross was easily dealt with by the defense. Birmingham had a similar chance themselves only 3 minutes later was a Reilly free kick was delivered into the box but was hacked away.

Town’s youngsters showed more intent in the opening 10 minutes with two more chances. First with Ben Whitehead shooting wide and then a half volley straight at Birmingham’s goalkeeper. Nearing the quarter hour mark, Swindon had another chance. Some neat play between midfielders Harry Grant and Alex Ferguson put  Storey in space down the left once again, but he ran the ball out of play.

In a rather bizarre moment about a minute later the Blues ‘keeper Nicolas Townsend received a back pass and kicked the ball against the on coming Ben Whitehead, whose shot was only returned back straight towards the ‘keeper and safely away.

During another attack for Swindon, a diving header from Birmingham defender Samuel Westley connected with a stray boot and he was forced to come off as blood was dripping down his face and shirt. Westley clearly didn’t want to be substituted but it appears he wasn’t given a choice by the medic and Birmingham staff.

Only 4 minutes after Kortney House came on for Westley, Swindon found themselves behind. A low cross from the left was pushed away by Bedwell, only to be found by Eddy Gnahore. On the turn, he sent Bedwell the wrong away and calmly rolled the ball into the left corner.

After a 10 minute spell of possession, Birmingham nearly doubled their lead. Bedwell did well to save Joshua Hawker’s shot, and only a slip from Gnahore on the wet surfaced prevented the score line reading 0-2.

In mere minutes though, Swindon grabbed the equaliser. The Birmingham substitute House missed the ball leaving Louis Thompson to run down the right side. His ball into the box went to the feet of Miles Storey. His first shot was blocked by a defender, but his second was rolled into the next to make it 1-1.

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Photos courtesy of STFC U18 Player Aaron Oakley

Unfortunately for Swindon, their lead didn’t last long. Kortney House made up for his error by delivering a ball into the area. It fell for Chris Sim who failed to clear and Reece Hales pounced to send the ball into the roof of the net. Birmingham went into half-time 2-1 up at The County Ground.

I must have been enjoying my half-time Bovril a bit too much as I missed the start of the second half. From what I could gather, Connor Waldon came on for Chris Sim to give Swindon a more attacking look.

And it worked, as on the hour mark, Swindon Town equalised for the second time. A ball from the left went past a slipped defender and Storey drove home his second goal of the night.

Just before the goal, Storey kept walking over to the bench and looking in some discomfort. He did this once more after the goal before his number finally went up for the substitution. As he made way for Mark Francis, it later transpired the striker had a migraine.

There was a sense the winner wouldn’t come from Swindon as a Ferguson shot, resulting from a defended corner, was flicked over the bar by his own player Aaron Oakley.

Unfortunately for Birmingham, 4 minutes later the winner did come in the way of a superb Harry Grant free kick. The captain’s shot swung high and towards the top left hand corner, leaving the ‘keeper stranded and the entire team celebrating. Even Leigh Bedwell sprinted half the pitch to join in.

There was a scare only seconds later however, as good play from Birmingham saw a shot saved by Bedwell. Although the rebound found the net, the player was given offside much to the home crowd approval.

Aside from a shot straight at Bedwell, the only other moment Birmingham had was in the 92nd minute, when they had a player clean through on goal but knocked past the approaching Swindon ‘keeper but wide of the post.

Swindon managed to hang on for the win. The crowd found their voice after the third goal and there was a big cheer at the end which was evidently missing at the Newport County game. The tactical change at half-time and the second half comeback was really something that Paul Bodin should be praised for. Birmingham looked the better team at times but ultimately deserved to be the losing side.

The 4th Round draw will be announced this Friday with the ties to be played before the 21st January 2012.

Now can Swindon progress to the Quarter Finals for the first time since a meeting with Newcastle United Youth in 2007?

Teams:

Swindon: 3 – Miles Storey ’36 ’60, Harry Grant ’72

1. Leigh Bedwell

2. Luke Murden (Aaron Ferris ’51)

3. Chris Sim (Connor Walden ’45)

4. Aaron Oakley

5. Joe Chapman

6. Eddie Stevens

7. Louis Thompson

8. Harry Grant (C)

9. Ben Whiteheaid

10. Miles Storey (Mark Francis ’65)

11. Alex Ferguson

Subs not used: Conor Thompson, Jake Simpson

Birmingham City: 2 – Gnahore ’23, Hales ’40

1. Nicolas Townsend

2. Samuel Westley (Kortney House ’19)

3. Amarii Bell

4. Callum Reilly (c)

5. Brad Gascoigne

6. James Fry

7. Mubarak Adarabioyo (Deqwon Ebanks ’70)

8. Joshua Hawker (George McGee ’78)

9. Reece Hales

10. Eddy Gnahore

11. Mitchell Hancox

Subs not used: Charlie Adams, Demarai Gray

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