Scorer Taylor ready to take place in stands
TAYLOR Harwood-Bellis celebrated his first City goal – and then vowed to be at Old Trafford for tomorrow’s derby, no matter what.
The 17-year-old Blues starlet had an agonising wait while the video assistant referee (VAR) checked his deflection of a John Stones shot for offside, as the Blues beat Port Vale 4-1 in the FA Cup third round.
Harwood-Bellis is not likely to make the matchday 18 as City head across town for the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against United. And that means he will be seeking a ticket so he can cheer the Blues on from the stand, as he has done in the past.
The Stockport lad was standing a yard from the Port Vale goal-line when Stones’ shot hit his leg on its way in.
That brought a lengthy VAR analysis which found he was marginally onside, sparking a fistpumping celebration from the teenager as he lined up for the restart.
While fans are angry that VAR is removing the spontaneity of goalscoring moments, nothing was taking away the ecstasy of the achievement for Harwood-Bellis.
“I have never been involved in a game with VAR before so I didn’t know what to expect,” he said afterwards. “When it went on for longer than I thought I started to think it might be a goal and when it said ‘not offside’ I was buzzing. I thought it was a good finish!”
Beating Vale means that Harwood-Bellis might get further first team chances, as he has only featured in the domestic cup competitions.
And turning out in front of the Etihad Stadium fans for the first time, when he has so often sat amongst them, was special.
“It’s a surreal experience and a surreal feeling, getting a goal and another 90 minutes, especially playing in front of a home crowd, making my debut in front of our own fans,” he said.
“It’s a big experience and a proud day for me and my family – and I’ll take a goal however it goes in.
City now prepare to face United and Harwood-Bellis will be checking his phone today to see if he will be training with the first team squad or not.
Whatever happens he will be at Old Trafford, either as part of the squad or as a fan
“I’ll wait to see what happens,” he said. “If I’m not in the squad, I’ll be in the stand. I will be there either way.
“It’s different playing with the calibre of players in the first team and then playing in the EDS, but I still work my hardest, do everything I can and chip in with goals. It doesn’t change for me – it’s all football at the end of the day.”