Newcastle United are within touching distance of reaching their first FA Youth Cup final since 1985 after defeating Crystal Palace 4-2 at St James’ Park last night.
In a pulsating quarter final tie, the home side progressed thanks to a double strike from Samuel Adjei and goals from Phil Airey and Sammy Ameobi, while the visitors goals came via a Joe Goldsmith penalty and an Ibra Sekajja effort.
In a lively opening Palace came closest to breaking the deadlock when Wilfred Zaha pulled the ball back for Sekajja but his goal bound effort was blocked by Newcastle skipper Jeff Henderson.
With Palace looking dangerous but Newcastle slowly finding their feet in the tie it was a case of when not if the first goal was going to come and fortunately for the home side it fell their way courtesy of an Adjei free-kick. The winger’s right footed effort finding its way past Eagles keeper Charlie Mann after taking the slightest of deflections.
Within 3 minutes it was 2–0, Adjei hitting his and Newcastle’s second of the night after Kieran Kenlock could only partially clear.
Cue a Palace period of pressure, the visitors recovering well after their concession of a second goal and they looked to have been rewarded for their spell of dominance when Paul Dummett’s handball in the box presented Goldsmith with an opportunity to reduce the arrears from the spot.
The Palace hit-man fired low and hard but unbelievably saw his effort deflected away by Jak Alnwick who produced an incredible save.
Not to be denied, the Eagles then forced their second penalty of the night in as many minutes, Dummett again the perpetrator this time bringing down the lively Zaha. Goldsmith once again stepped forward, showing nerves of steel as second time around his effort found the bottom corner.
Palace pressed in vain for an equaliser before the break but the home side managed to weather a tricky few minutes to lead at the interval.
Palace could and should have been level within minutes of the restart, first Jack Randall forcing Alnwick to tip his driven effort over the bar and then from the resulting corner Zaha’s drive somehow eluded his team-mates in the six yard box when it seemed the goal was at their mercy.
With Palace pressing for an equaliser but seemingly shy of that bit of luck that is so often required in tight games, it seemed inevitable that the hosts would hit them on the break and so it came to pass, with Phil Airey converting after some excellent play by Dummett on the left.
The goal visibly restored the home side’s confidence while working in reverse for the visitors and when James Tavernier found Sammy Ameobi, in space inside the area on 78 minutes there was only one outcome, the forward unleashing an unstoppable effort beyond Mann to make it 4–1.
Down but not out Palace showed their resilience when Ibra Sekajja’s 80th minute gave Alnwick no chance and set up a anxious final ten minutes for the home side.
Palace continued to put the hosts under pressure but with time against them the home side held their nerve to secure a semi-final spot.