Stoke City 0
Rusnak 93mins, Angelino 112mins
- Match reports
- 21 November 2013 21:41
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
City EDS booked their place in the fourth round of the inaugural Barclays u21 Premier League Cup with an extra-time triumph over Stoke City.
The sides couldn’t be separated in normal time, thanks to an inspired performance from Stoke goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, but goals from Albert Rusnak and Angelino in either half of extra-time gave the Blues the victory their performance deserved.
Launched this season, the under-21 Premier League Cup offers City a further opportunity for silverware in a campaign which sees them fighting on five fronts.
Without a match since the home defeat to CSKA Moscow two and a half weeks ago, City arrived at Nantwich Town FC on a Baltic November night for this meeting with a Stoke City team the Blues did the double over at this level last season.
Patrick Vieira was able to name Emyr Huws at the base of midfield after the Welshman’s first senior international call-up last week, while there were also starts for Jordy Hiwula, Jose Angel Pozo and Albert Rusnak across the front three.
It took time for both teams to settle into the game, with possession changing hands at a basis that would have been far too regular for either Glyn Hodges or Patrick Vieira’s likings from their vantage points in opposite dug-outs.
When City did finally begin to settle into this attractive encounter, it became clear that they had the greater incision of the two teams.
First, Rusnak showed great skill to get to the byline past Elliot Wheeler on 15 minutes but his cross was cut-out before the waiting Pozo could tap home, before Huws forced Bachmann into a fingertip save with a precise shot from the edge of the area five minutes later.
With pressure mounting on the Stoke goal and Rusnak finding joy with every raid in tandem with Adam Drury on the right, it looked like a matter of time until Vieira’s men broke the deadlock but the hosts always seemed to find a deflection or block at the crucial moment.
After seeing off City’s 15 minute assault, Stoke recovered and were well-organised, defending with numbers to frustrate the visitors for the final ten minutes of the half.
As members of the first-team will attest to, patience is a valuable virtue when facing up against a team trying to fit cast iron shackles onto your creative talents.
The first-half frustrations were almost forgotten when Rusnak once again wriggled to the byline and fed Leigh but Bachmann somehow kept out the England youth international full-back’s powerful strike from close range.
It was an incredible one-handed save from the falling keeper but City stuck to their philosophy and poked and pried for a gap in the Potters’ rear-guard but they still had to ward against complacency at the other end too.
Stoke reminded all present of the threat they posed when they had the ball in the back of net on the hour mark but the referee blew for a foul on Ian Lawlor, before Glendon was required to sweep Alex Grant’s goalbound header from a corner off the line a few minutes later.
With extra-time looming, Bachmann produced his third excellent save of the evening, getting two hands to a measured strike from Fofana which looked destined for the top corner.
Second half substitute Angelino attempted a spectacular volley in the final minutes but the goalkeeper once again dived to the Potters’ rescue, meaning there would be an extra 30 minutes at the Weaver Stadium.
Bachmann added to his portfolio of saves with another from Fofana three minutes into extra-time, denying the Frenchman with his feet to preserve his clean sheet – at least for another four minutes.
Finally the Austrian youth international stopper was beaten by a moment of real quality from City’s best player on the night, Rusnak.
The Slovakian showed wonderful composure to take a touch inside the penalty area, before burying a thumping strike across the goalkeeper into the opposite corner with his right foot.
Stoke reverted back to a style more commonly associated with the Potters in an attempt to get back into the game, launching the ball long and it was an approach that would have paid instant dividends if Lawlor hadn’t pulled off his first save of the night to keep out Derice Richards’ powerful shot with his feet.
However, it was City who found the game’s second goal, capitalising on the numbers the home side had thrown forward to put the game beyond doubt.
Angelino crashed the ball against the post before following it up himself with a sidefoot finish to make sure of City’s place in the next round of the competition.