QPR U18 v Everton U18
Everton slid out of the FA Youth Cup following a deeply frustrating 1-0 defeat to 10-man QPR in West London.
The visitors enjoyed a near monopoly on possession and chances and dominated most areas of the game. They did everything but put the ball in the net.
Unfortunately for Everton, the hosts did.
QPR were happy to play on the counter and utilise the pace of match-winner Bruno Andrade.
And the Portuguese, who has played for the Hoops’ first team this season, produced an electric run and shot early in the second half which ultimately proved the difference.
The hosts were down to 10 following Frankie Sutherland’s lunge on Johan Hammar on 79 minutes and, while the pressure intensified, they stood firm to see out the win.
The Blues finished the game where they had played most of it – in the QPR half – but it is the West London outfit who will go on to face either Newcastle or Watford in the next round.
Everton started with an attacking 4-3-3 formation with the triple-pronged forward line of Adam Thomas, top-scorer Anton Forrester and Hallam Hope showing a real intent to take the game to their hosts.
Behind them the legs and energy of Ryan Higgins and Connor Grant complemented the astute distribution of skipper and deep-lying playmaker John Lundstram.
The visitors’ attacking outlook manifested in an early chance for Forrester as he seized on Hope’s knockdown only to thump a volley high over the bar.
It was a great chance, but as play swung up the other end, Andrade bustled forward and gave a warning of things to come as he drew a great save from James Fitzgibbon with a venomous long-range effort.
That hairy moment aside it was a promising start for Everton who showed few nerves as they shuttled the ball around with authority.
Soon another chance arrived as Thomas’ cross befuddled the home defence and the dangerous Forrester hooked an acrobatic volley inches wide.
Minutes later Lundstram had Gareth Deane sprawling – his tip round the post earning a fourth corner in the opening 15 minutes for the ascendant Blues.
Everton’s bright start soon crystalised and became the pattern of the contest as – bar a few set-pieces – they pinned the Hoops back and created numerous promising openings.
A great move involving Thomas, Forrester and Hope resulted in the latter being about a stud short of converting at the back stick, while moments later Forrester clattered the post with a snapshot.
But half-time came and went and soon Everton were made to pay for not capitalising on their superiority as Andrade crashed home from distance.
It was a setback, but one the young Blues took in their stride as they set about chasing the game. Soon their pressure yielded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Higgins stepped up to rattle the crossbar. The contest was being played in the QPR half as the hosts dropped deeper and deeper.
Minutes later it was Higgins’ midfield cohort Grant who was inches away from a leveller as he scrambled Forrester’s pass into the side netting with the angle against him.
While it was pretty much all Everton, Andrade was a menace on the break and he once again forced Fitzgibbon into a fine save in a rare QPR raid.
The hosts were generally happy to defend and soon they had even more reason to do so as midfielder Sutherland was dismissed for a reckless challenge on Hammar.
Still the Blues pressed but still the leveller they craved eluded them as time slipped away.