Aston Villa produced a clinical performance to progress through to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup at Selhurst Park.
Villa started the game on the front foot and had their first shot on target five minutes into the game when centre forward Callum O’Hare shot straight at Palace goalkeeper Oliver Pain.
Although the midlands club dominated possession in the early stages, Palace were equals in their counter-attacking prowess, and no sooner had they cut out another Villa attack did they make their own breakaway. Corie Andrews had looked isolated up front but when the ball came to him outside the box he got his shot off first-time, only to be saved comfortably by Emmanuel Idem.
Villa continued to press and it didn’t take long for them to get their goal. Corey Taylor was a constant threat attacking Palace’s left-hand side, and in the tenth minute he produced a superb low cross into the six-yard box which wasn't held by Pain and was subsequently poked in by Villa striker Kelsey Mooney.
The second goal followed shortly. Great play from Villa’s Taylor saw the winger dummy a cross with his right, pull the ball back to cross with his left, and find O'Hare who scored with a glancing header into the corner of the net.
Villa were two ahead within twenty minutes, and Palace were restricted to shots from distance. Palace's wingers, Levi Lumeka and Aaron Bissaka, were full of purpose in their running but couldn’t find the final ball. The Eagles were forced into making an early substitution when Michael Phillips pulled up injured in the 25th minute.
Villa scored their third ten minutes before half-time. This time Andre Green, another pacey and strong winger, completed a one-two with O'Hare only for Palace’s Callum Sturgess to produce a fine block to deflect the striker’s shot out for a corner kick. The ensuing cross was pushed out for another corner and it was third time lucky for Villa when the ball fell to Green who placed his shot into the bottom corner.
Palace deserved credit for not letting their heads drop, and in the 37th minute they were awarded a penalty when Andrews was brought down in the box by Villa’s left-back Johan Abdoul. A confident Lumeka stepped up to take the spot kick and sent Idem the wrong way, bringing the home side back into the game.
A 3-1 score-line at half-time, but Palace came back out in the second half with their heads up, and Lumeka continued to trouble the Villa backline with his direct running towards goal. Palace’s second substitution was a tactical one, Andre Coker coming on for Jason Lokilo, and the midfielder made an immediate impact. His physical presence was a threat in itself, and some neat play with Andrews nearly produced a goal. The two linked up well outside Villa’s box and only some last ditch defending stopped the latter getting a clean shot away. The ball was cleared only as far as Bissaka, but his effort was well wide.
Villa’s fourth was a big blow for the Eagles who were showing signs of getting a second. However it was O’Hare who doubled his tally as his side took advantage when Palace switched off defending a corner. The striker was unchallenged in the six-yard box and finished neatly into the bottom right-hand corner.
Palace still kept up their fight, and from the restart Luke Dreher found himself in space running into the box, only a last ditch tackle deflecting his shot for a corner. Bissaka and Lumeka seemed to have endless energy as they continued to threaten the Villa defence, but the visitors completed the rout when no sooner had their substitute Jake Humphries taken to the field did he produce a fine right-footed shot which ended up in the corner of Pain’s goal.
The game ended with two Palace corners in quick succession. Bissaka nearly scoring as the goalkeeper tipped away the first, but the second was cleared away, by which time all remained was for the referee to blow the full-time whistle.
Palace: Pain, Sturgess, Wynter, Woods, Hossanah, Lumeka (Flanagan 85mins), Dreher, Phillips (Hogan 25mins), Bissaka, Lokilo (Coker 52mins), Andrews
Aston Villa: Idem, Abdoul, Coates, Suliman, Clark, Zeidan (Clarke 74mins), Hayes, Green, Mooney (Humphries 80mins), Taylor (Cox 82mins), H’Hare