City knocked holders Aston Villa out in the third round with a 2-0 victory at Villa Park last month and were victorious once again on Friday evening, courtesy of Jack Butterfill’s last-minute winner amid extremely foggy conditions in Seagrave.
The six changes made from the weekend’s league win over Birmingham City meant it was a fresh Foxes line-up, with the inclusion of captain Sammy Braybrooke, who has primarily represented the Under-23s this season.
Adopting a 3-4-1-2 formation, top scorer Chris Popov led the line alongside Will Alves, who made his senior debut in the Emirates FA Cup last weekend, while Ben Nelson – also in the first team squad against Watford – started in defence.
And after Crewe midfielder Joel Tabinor saw a free-kick crash against the crossbar, it was Alves who instigated City’s first opportunity, firing wide from the edge of the box.
It was largely a cagey opening half, though, with neither side wanting to give anything away, though Leicester soon sprang into life after the half-hour mark. Harvey Godsmark-Ford rose highest from Braybrooke’s corner, heading into the arms of opposition ‘keeper Tom Booth, before Popov also had an effort saved by Crewe’s stopper.
A rare foray forward from Crewe presented an opportunity for Max Woodcock, but he turned the ball wide, and the hosts were soon back on the attack. Popov brought out the acrobatics to latch onto Jahmari Lindsay’s cross, though Booth was equal to the effort once more.
Brandon Cover then fashioned two chances of his own in the closing stages of the first half, the latter close to troubling Booth - but eventually he was able to watch it curl narrowly wide of the goal.
City continued to apply pressure after the break, but the game remained finely poised at 0-0, after Godsmark-Ford had headed Braybrooke’s corner wide and Henry Cartwright’s strike deflected past the post.
Nelson’s shot had to be saved shortly after, ahead of Alves working an angle for a shot and was disappointed not to test the ‘keeper. He did just that minutes later, however, skilfully cutting inside onto his left and unleashing a powerful low drive that Booth had to hold on to.
The opportunities continued to flow when substitute Butterfill volleyed over from close range, meeting Lindsay’s cross, while Joe Wormleighton curled a strike around the defence, only to see Booth parry the ball away.
The urgency was building to find a route to goal as Alves struck the crossbar. The rebound landed kindly for Popov to divert it back towards goal, but his header was adjudged not have crossed the line and the visitors managed to clear the danger.
The young Foxes finally broke Crewe’s resistance thanks to Butterfill’s finish right at the death, with the forward in the right place to slot the ball home after Wormleighton was unfortunate to see his effort come back off the woodwork, sparking jubilant scenes shortly before full-time.
Jack Butterfill wheels away in celebration after scoring the winner.
City had to wait until the final minute of normal time to make the breakthrough and Jack Butterfill, who came off the bench 30 minutes earlier, was cool, calm and composed to send Leicester through.
The 16-year-old looked to make things happen throughout the contest.
Will Alves was a constant threat for the Railwaymen’s defence, running into dangerous areas with purpose and pace. On another day, he could have added his own name to the scoresheet.
Where do we stand?
Leicester City Under-18s
The Foxes youngsters had to wait until the final minute to break the deadlock.
The draw for the fifth round has been made, with Leicester’s youngsters facing a trip to AFC Bournemouth. A date for the fixture will be announced in due course.
Leicester City Under-18s
Unrivalled joy within City's ranks as they edged out Crewe in Seagrave.
City’s Under-18s’ return to U18 Premier League South duties on Saturday 22 January, meeting West Bromwich Albion at LCFC Training Ground (12pm GMT kick-off).
City: Chibueze; Grist (Wilson-Brown 76’), Godsmark-Ford, B. Nelson; Wormleighton, Braybrooke (C), Cartwright, Lindsay, Cover (Butterfill 61’); Popov, Alves.
Subs not used: Doherty, Cook, Kutshienza, Lewis, Briggs.
Goal: Butterfill 89’.
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