Town’s Under 18s made it through to the FA Youth Cup Fifth Round, following a 3-1 win over Swindon Town at Portman Road on Saturday (27th March 2021).

Adem Atay’s side, who are sponsored by Britton Group, attacked towards the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand in the first half. On a dry but cold and windy afternoon, the first half-chance went to the Blues after four minutes as Liam Gibbs’ run took him into the Swindon area but the away ‘keeper Kai Storr blocked well. Two minutes later, Zanda Siziba made a mazy and threatening run before eventually being crowded out by the Robins’ defence.

Swindon’s first real chance came after twelve minutes, with George Cowmeadow flashing a shot over the bar. A minute later Siziba fizzed a right-footed shot just wide of the post, but in an end-to-end opening to the game it was the visitors who opened the scoring on fifteen minutes. Swindon won a corner in the north-west corner of the pitch, which Cowmeadow swung in right-footed. A combination of the curl on the ball and the windy conditions meant that Antoni Bort could not get enough of a hand on the ball to push it away, and it drifted into the net.

Town reacted well and right-back Edwin Agbaje forced a corner within a minute of the goal. Although nothing came of it, Atay’s side continued to press and Gibbs hooked just over from an offside position (19′). Two minutes later, Cameron Humphreys rounded Storr and cut the ball across the six-yard box to Siziba, but a Swindon defender put in a good block to prevent a certain goal. Another well-worked move on 23 minutes ended with an Alfie Cutbush shot being blocked, but ITFC did not have to wait much longer for their equaliser.

A long, searching ball out of the Town defence found the marauding Agbaje, who outmuscled two Swindon defenders to cut into the box from the right and fire a left-footed shot to Storr’s left and inside the post (24′). Town were good value for the equaliser and Siziba fired a free-kick over the bar four minutes later. The game continued to ebb and flow, however, with Swindon winning another corner on 31 minutes before Agbaje’s clipped cross was headed wide by the busy Siziba on 33 minutes. Siziba then went on a strong run down the left and cut inside before seeing his shot saved, with the Town number 11 looking for a goal that his performance in the opening period would have deserved.

Around the 35-minute mark, the home side were really ramping up the pressure and enjoyed a prolonged period in the attacking third. This came to a climax with Siziba slotting home, but again the offisde flag had been raised by the official on the East of England Cooperative Stand touchline. On 42 minutes, Swindon’s captain Harry Parsons swung in a free-kick from the left. Bort claimed the ball well to snuff out the danger, although Town centre-back Cameron Stewart did take a knock in the face in the process and had to leave the field briefly to received treatment and change his bloodied shirt. Siziba was also down injured at the same time, although both players returned to the pitch to see out the two minutes of injury time.

Although Ipswich had the majority of the possession and chances in the first half, Swindon had threatened at times and the sides went into the break with the scoreline at 1-1. The knock received by Siziba at the end of the half was sufficient to see him replaced by fellow forward Ola Bello at the break, in what was the only change for either side.

The first incident of the second half was Swindon number 5 Harrison Minturn receiving the first yellow card of the match, but Liam Gibbs couldn’t make the resulting free-kick count. Two minutes later, however, Gibbs made amends as he whipped in a cross from the left and substitute Bello got in front of his man at the far post to flick a header beyond Storr and in at the far post (49′) and give Town a 2-1 lead. Bello took a knock to the head as he scored, but was able to play on after some treatment from the Town physios.

A period without major chances or incidents then followed, before Tawanda Chirewa fired over on 57′. Cameron Humphreys was then booked on 61 minutes for kicking the ball away having not been able to keep a through-ball in play. On 63 minutes, Town almost played themselves into trouble at the back before Swindon won two consecutive corners, but the ITFC defence dealt with the danger.

On 66 minutes, Parsons won a free-kick for the visitors when he was fouled as he got his shot away, but the Town wall stood tall and strong to make the block. Swindon were enjoying a decent spell of possession, which led to two yellow cards in as many minutes for Ipswich (Cutbush on 70′, Chirewa on 71′). Chirewa then saw a shot blocked, following a strong run and good pass from Gibbs. A flurry of substitutions then followed, with Jack Manly on for Chirewa (74′), Levi Francis on for Donell Gordon for Swindon (also 74′) and the injured goal scorer Ola Bello replaced by Tyrese Osbourne (78′).

Swindon’s Parsons then went into the referee’s notebook on 81 minute for a foul, then the same player took a dangerous free-kick a minute later which Bort held well. On 83 minutes Swindon again went searching for an equaliser but Cowmeadow’s cross evaded all of his team mates in the box. On 84 minutes, Town sub Manly hit a shot from 25 minutes which was pushed wide by Storr, with another Town replacement Osbourne flicking an effort wide from the resulting corner.

On 86 minutes, the young Blues won a corner following a fould on Cutbush. Humphreys took the resulting free kick, which resulted in another corner from which Town sealed the win. Humphreys too the corner from the Cobbold Stand side of the pitch and Town number 6 Albie Armin rose to power in a header in front of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand and increase the lead.

Four minutes of stoppage time were announced but, aside from a ninety-second minute free kick which was claimed by Bort, the home side held out without too much drama. Following victories over Southend United, Chelmsford City and Fulham, ITFC’s Under 18s had beaten Swindon Town 3-1 in the Fourth Round. Up next will be an away trip to either Swansea City or Middlesbrough, who face off in South Wales this coming Good Friday 2nd April.

ITFC Under 18s line-up vs Swindon Town, Saturday 27th March 2021: Bort, Agbaje, Bradshaw, Cutbush, Stewart, Armin, Alexander (c), Humphreys, Chirewa (Manly 74′), Gibbs, Siziba (Bello 45′, Osbourne 78′). Unused subs: Ridd, Stephenson, Nwabueze, Barbrook

Photo credit: Ross Media UK

Other Match reports:

Official ITFC Club website: https://www.itfc.co.uk/news/2021/march/ipswich-beat-swindon-fa-youth-cup/

TWTD: https://www.twtd.co.uk/ipswich-town-news/39993/u18s-defeat-swindon-in-fa-youth-cup

Other match-related articles:

Adem Atay’s views: https://www.itfc.co.uk/news/2021/march/adem-atay-on-youth-cup-victory-against-swindon/

Matchday photo gallery: https://www.itfc.co.uk/news/2021/march/youth-cup-gallery-vs-swindon/

Matchday highlights info: https://www.itfc.co.uk/news/2021/march/youth-cup-highlights-vs-swindon/

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