A Slavi Spasov goal was enough to see United's youth team through to the next round of the FA Youth Cup with a 1-0 win over Barnet this evening at Court Place Farm.
United started extremely well with Ryan Crooks clipping the edge of the right-hand post in the second minute and then forcing the keeper into a decent first save two minutes later. Crooks, Spasov and Owen James were a lively front three and with wing backs Kyran Lofthouse and Michael Elechi bombing forward to join them, the U’s looked very strong up front.
However, it was far from one-way traffic and there was a warning on 21 when Martyn Box whipped a free kick towards the bottom left corner and keeper Max Evans needed to get down sharply to push it round the post. Left-back Box then sent another effort over the bar on 23 before Spasov scored the only goal of the night on 29 minutes.
It started from a throw by Freddie Niblett on the half way line and a powerful run from Lofthouse down the right that took him past his man and to the by-line. When he cut the ball back there was still plenty of work for Spasov to do but he showed composure to slow himself down and then poke the ball past keeper Aymen Azaze to make it 1-0.
Barnet almost got themselves level before the break when Evans first tipped an Okem Chime header away, and again when the keeper saved from Connell and Chime in quick succession, but there should have been daylight early in the second half when Spasov was brought down inside the area but failed to find Aymen’s corner when the keeper got down well to save his penalty kick.
James had already run 75 yards with the ball and drilled a shot just wide and had a further effort parried on 66 as United began to exploit the space when the visitors began to gamble to search for an equaliser. Captain Aaron McCreadie lifted an effort over the bar after another James effort was blocked, then steered a Lofthouse cross wide of the mark. James was then denied by the keeper once more and United had played well without quite being able to kill the game off - a point emphasised when Chime hit the bar for Barnet in the 95th minute!
The one down side was an injury to centre-half Viktor Milton, who twisted awkwardly when making a typically brave challenge and was stretchered off, but that moment apart this was a very encouraging performance from a side who top their league and now go on to face Burnley away in round three.
Evans, Lofthouse, Niblett, Milton (Sampford 73), Jones, Elechi, McCreadie ©, Chambers-Parillon, Crooks (Lopes 60), Spasov (Edwards 90), O James
Subs not used