Accrington Stanley reached the FA Youth Cup Second Round after beating Rochdale 1-0 at the Wham Stadium, courtesy of captain Josh Hmami’s first-half strike.
Paul Lodge’s side led in just the sixth minute following a flowing move, started, and finished, by Hmami – before producing a solid defensive rear guard to shut out their opponents.
Hmami won possession on the halfway line before driving at the Dale backline, he squared a ball to winger Niall Watson who found Kasom Shah at the back post, the full-backs effort crashed off the bar but fell perfectly to the advancing Hmami to finish off the move he started with a cool finish past Bradley Wade.
Another teasing Watson ball into the box found Joel Mills unmarked but the forward couldn’t guide his header beyond Wade, allowing the goalkeeper to comfortably gather.
After a rocky start the visitors grew into the cup-tie with Neil Kuemo forcing Nathan Wolland into a quick-reaction save from close-range before Aaron Morley’s strike from 25-yards forced the Stanley man to tip it onto the post and to safety.
The first real chance of the second period came for the visitors in the 65th minute when a Stanley attack broke down, Morley launched a rapid counter-attack, squaring the ball for Lewis Bradley inside the area but his low shot was well saved by Wolland who parried before rushing to his feet to smother Morley’s rebound.
Stanley searched for the goal that would seal their progression, Tom Reilly curling a free-kick inches wide of the post before Jack Burgess’ looping overhead-kick from inside the area landed on the roof of the goal.
As the clock ticked down Dale continued to come forward but they couldn’t find a goal that would take it to extra-time, meaning the young Reds progress to the Second Round to face Coventry City who defeated Lincoln 2-1.