U18s hit five in Youth Alliance Cup
AFC Bournemouth under-18s made it through to the quarter-finals of the Youth Alliance Cup with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Bristol Rovers.
A hat-trick from Luke Pardoe, as well as goals from Christian Saydee and Brooklyn Genesini helped the Cherries to the win, with the next round taking place in December.
Alan Connell’s side started strongly, Euan Pollock having the first real opening but dragging his shot from inside the area wide of the post.
Moments later, Connor Kurran-Browne saw his effort blocked, before the deadlock was broken just after the 20-minute mark.
Genesini played it through to Saydee, who proved a problem for the Bristol defence all game, finishing low across the ‘keeper for his eighth goal of the season.
The striker had a chance to double the lead and his tally for the day moments later as his powerful header from an in-swinging corner was cleared off the line.
With the hosts a goal up going into the break, Connell’s side came out firing for the second half and Luke Gray had a great chance within the opening ten minutes, but his shot from outside the box was collected with ease by the Bristol ‘keeper.
The Cherries didn’t have long to wait for a second, though.
Superb play from Pardoe saw him pick the ball up in midfield, beat two Rovers players and forge a shooting position, the eventual effort fired home with conviction.
Pollock then went close as he tried to latch on to Genesini’s ball, but the onrushing ‘keeper came to the rescue for the visitors.
However, Connell’s side proved too strong eventually.
Genesini continued to cause problems down the right and got the goal his performance deserved, racing on to a through ball and catching the ‘keeper off his line, finishing first-time beyond him from 35 yards out.
It was then over to Pardoe to add a fourth just six minutes later.
The striker found himself in space in the box after finding the ball at his feet. He took a touch and duly converted with just a quarter-of-an-hour to go.
The hosts threatened again immediately, this time Pollock firing his shot inches wide after being put through one-on-one, before captain Harvey Bertrand produced a fantastic reaction save from the Bristol ‘keeper, who tipped his header just over.
With minutes remaining, there was still time for Pardoe to complete his hat-trick.
A lovely team move saw Tarik Gidaree played in down the right and square for the striker in the box, who made no mistake with a simple finish to round off the game.
After the match, manager Alan Connell spoke to afcb.co.uk about his side’s performance.
“I thought at times we went through the motions to be honest,” said the former striker.
“I thought our decision making was not at the level I expect and, while we scored five goals, I thought we made hard work of it, mainly because of that decision making and our execution in our passing.
“I’m pleased to score five goals and keep a clean sheet, which we worked towards every day but, as I said, I thought too many of us went through motions.”
“We’re pleased to get through to the next round to give us another high-pressure cup game, which is what we want for young players developing. But today, I don’t think it was a true reflection of the boys’ quality that we’ve seen this season.”
Connell also spoke on the importance of the competition and the opportunity it can give for young players.
“The next round is the quarter-finals, so we have a bit of a break in it now,” he continued.
“Three years ago, the boys won the competition and that team had the likes of Kyle Taylor, Nnamdi Ofoborh and Gavin Kilkenny in it.
“Those boys are now in and around the first team, so the competition can elevate you and make people notice you. It will also enable the boys to play under more pressure, which we want to expose them to.
“We want to win these games in our own way and in our style and I think we didn’t quite execute that to our level today.”