Town Juniors 4 - 2 Thackley (FA Youth Cup) Second Round. TOWN will face West Ham at the McAlpine in the third round after an entertaining victory against impressive Thackley.
This was no easy ride for Town against opposition from the North East Youth Alliance, but John Dungworth's side worked hard to make their edge in quality tell.
Town had their work cut out to deal with pacy Thackley strikers Declan Corby and Ashley Rosindale - both of whom have been to England Youth trials - but fears were eased when James Hand planted a firm header past Darrell Crowley to give Town a 34th-minute lead.
Gavin Huxall extended the advantage 74 seconds into the second half with a fine angled finish to Luke Caulfield's sweeping cross, but Thackley stuck to their guns and pulled one back against the run of play through Rosindale on 66 minutes.
Town - for whom Caulfield was the star performer with his pace and skills - quickly regained the initiative, however, and late goals within the space of three minutes by Matthew Young (77 mins) and Joe Shaw (80 mins) put the tie beyond doubt. Thackley got a consolation through substitute Pat Carberry six minutes from time and they deserved their ovation at the final whistle from a large travelling contingent in a crowd of 279.
Two of West Ham's youth staff were among those who saw Thackley make a determined start.
Town keeper Jacob Giles - hero of the first-round penalty shoot-out victory against Grimsby - saved smartly from Andy King with only 90 seconds on the clock and again from lively midfielder George Hicks, whose cracking left-footer looked destined for the top corner.
Giles had to block from Corby, too, before Kyle Shah glanced a header across the face of goal, but Hand's opener from David Walls' excellent cross gave Town the nudge they needed.
Caulfield created all sorts of half chances for Town and had run himself into the ground by mid-way through the second half, when Young (who went close three times) and Michael Collins took over.
Collins was unlucky not to round off the victory with a goal on a smashing late break, and manager Peter Jackson took the time to go and congratulate the Under 18s on their victory in the dressing room afterwards.
Town -Giles, Walls, Evans, Collins, Hardy, Clarke, Caulfield (Kerridge 69), Young, Huxall (Sheridan 87), Shaw, Hand. Subs not used: Eastwood, Highley, Racchi.