Andre Godfrinne and Mo Sankoh – fresh from guiding Stoke City under-18s to the under-18 PL Cup final – stepped up to the under-23s to link up and go into the under-23 PL Cup knock-out rounds with a bang.
Kevin Russell’s team had already qualified for the last 16 before they took on Bournemouth in a behind-closed-doors rearranged fixture at Clayton Wood this afternoon. Bournemouth had already booked their place in the next stage too.
Russell named a young team featuring a host of the 18s, including keeper Nathan Broome, right-back Kieran Coates, midfielders Tom Sparrow and Adam Porter, forward Pat Jarrett and strike pair Sankoh and Godfrinne.
Clayton Hall student Sankoh, who has been in prolific form since Christmas, hit the post in the opening minute – and it was for a foul on him that Bournemouth were soon reduced to 10 men. Tyler Cordner was the last man when he felled the Holland youth cap.
Godfrinne made the breakthrough in the 53rd minute when he tapped home from a Sankoh cross.
The 17-year-old, who has recently been called up for Belgium’s youth squads, now has 13 goals in his last 13 appearances – and this was his second at this age level.
Sankoh, who has 11 goals in his last 11 games himself, later had a strike disallowed for offside.
Bournemouth still finish as group winners with 13 points and Stoke, who had beaten Southampton 4-1 on Tuesday, end unbeaten on 12 points. Southampton and Nottingham Forest are out.
The qualifiers are now waiting to hear the draw for the next round.
The under-18s final takes place at Manchester City on Tuesday, March 10 (7.45pm) and entrance is free for Stoke season ticket holders.
Stoke City: Broome, Coates, Corrigan (Jones, 20), Wara, Akandji, McJannet, Sparrow, Porter, Sankoh, Jarrett, Godfrinne. Subs: Macari, Nna Noukeu, Sorensen, Jennings.