- Match reports
- 15 March 2014 17:16
- Posted by @porter_mcfc / pics by @Vhaydn_MCFC
City u18s were forced to settle for a point against a stubborn Wolves side at Platt Lane.
The boy Blues dominated possession and went ahead through Brandon Barker, but the lead lasted barely two minutes before the visitors were level once more.
There was still more than half an hour for City to unearth a winner, but the team struggled to find a penetrating final ball and although they huffed and puffed they could not quite blow the house down.
The Blues were briefly overhauled by Everton at the table’s summit after losing 2-1 to the Toffees on Merseyside two weeks ago, but were quick to take advantage of their first game in hand and were looking to do the same with the second against Wolves.
Mindful of Tuesday’s UEFA Youth League quarter final date with Benfica, Wilcox made full use of his squad and made six changes from the side that won so handsomely against Boro last time out.
Charlie Albinson replaced Billy O’Brien between the sticks, while there was a youthful look to the back four – Charlie Oliver and Cameron Humphries joining Ashley Smith-Brown and Nathaniel Oseni in defensive duties.
Barker had a chance to open the scoring within the first two minutes, but unfortunately skewed the ball wide and after that City had to work harder to break through a dogged Wolves defence.
Ambrose also saw his shot flash wide of the post, while Ntcham couldn’t keep the ball down with a chance from the edge of the box and his next effort didn’t have enough power to trouble Burgoyne in the Wolves goal.
Smith-Brown and Celina both had chances for City, while Keita should have done better for the visitors but he couldn’t hit the target from a tight angle after breaking through the Blues’ back line.
City had much the better of the first half possession and chances and will have been disappointed to go into the break with the scores still level. They emerged revitalised after the break and Celina forced the goalkeeper into a strong save low to his left with a good hit from range.
In the end it was the lively Barker who finally broke the deadlock after 54 minutes. He picked up the ball from a Celina freekick and used his strength to force a way through a crowd of defenders and rifle the ball home into the far corner.
However, the lead was short lived. The visitors robbed the ball deep into City territory and although Albinson did well to prevent the initial effort at the near , the ball squirmed across the box and Pederson gleefully fired into an empty net to restore parity after just two minutes.
Both teams were eager to secure all three points and Celina’s powerful drive required a smart stop from Burgoyne, while the Blues survived their own scare with a succession of blocks after Albinson couldn’t gather the ball with the striker running at full speed towards goal.
Celina, who was called up for the senior Kosovo side earlier this month, evidently relished a more central role and had several chances to restore the lead, but had one shot blocked and curled another effort just wide of the post.
Albinson pulled off a good save when one on one with Keita, while Brandon Barker blazed over the bar on two occasions with time running out after jinking his way past the despairing defenders into good shooting positions.
City looked the better of the two sides over 90 minutes but struggled to make the most of limited opportunities, and had to be content with a point as the race for the league’s top spot hots up.
The boy Blues will be hoping to convert their chances into all three points when they travel to Merseyside to take on Liverpool next weekend.