NK Osijek 1
- Match reports
- 16 July 2013 21:50
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
Patrick Vieira’s Elite Development Squad got their pre-season programme off and running against Croatian u20 champions NK Osijek on Tuesday night.
A last minute goal from Benedik Mioc at NK Novigrad Stadium was the difference between the sides on the night but there were plenty of positives to take away from the game for the new EDS boss.
Since the Blues arrived in Novigrad last Wednesday, there has only been an in-house game between two City XIs, so this was the first opportunity to see Patrick’s team against proper opposition.
Vieira’s first teamsheet as a manager included the names of 15-year old Tosin Adarabioyo, making only his second-ever start for the u21s alongside Mathias Bossaerts at the centre of defence, as well as second-year scholar Jack Byrne (pictured below).
Although any pre-season game is more an exercise in match fitness than any all-consuming desire for victory, the frenetic pace of the first ten minutes and the quality of the opposition meant that the game was not lacking in competitive edge.
However, goal-scoring chances were at a premium in the opening quarter of an hour until City went close to opening the scoring after 16 minutes when Olivier Ntcham showed his excellent footwork in the centre of the pitch before feeding Alex Henshall on the left.
The Swindon-born winger left Osijek right-back Zoran Arsenic for dead before drilling the ball in at the near-post for Sinan Bytyqi who was a just whisker away from latching on to it to convert past the keeper.
Henshall scored the only goal in Saturday’s in-house game and the 19-year old was providing City’s chief threat in the first period although a long while passed without further significant goalmouth incident at either end.
That changed five minutes before the half-time break when Bytyqi shaped an excellent 25-yard free-kick just past the post with the keeper beaten, before Ian Lawlor beat away a stinging drive from Pongracic in the dying embers of the half.
With neither side able to break the deadlock in the first 45, Vieira made his pre-planned ten substitutions at half-time.
These wholesale changes handed opportunities to young Brandon Barker, new signing Thierry Ambrose and 19-year old Adam Drury who is back in the ranks after a loan spell at Burton Albion at the end of last season.
The first chance of the half fell to Seko Fofana, who drove at the Osijek back four before unleashing a powerful drive towards goal which Marko Malenica did well to bring into his body.
A minute later, Albert Rusnak produced an inspired reverse pass into the path of the impressive Barker (pictured below) but the youngster sliced his opportunity narrowly wide of the target, though he nearly atoned for the miss shortly after with a shot on target which brought the best out of the goalkeeper.
Ambrose nearly scored a goal all of his own making shortly after, winning back possession in the final third, slinking past a couple of men and shooting for goal but again Malenica was equal to the task.
Bytyqi was reintroduced for sole survivor of the half-time cull Bossaerts after 66 minutes and the Austrian orchestrated attacks impressively with the increasingly influential Rusnak, with the pair dovetailing on a number of occasions in and around the area but still the goal this link-up play deserved would not come.
City hit Osijek with a lighting fast counter attack with five minutes to go when Ambrose sped onto a lofted through ball from Rusnak and the Frenchman was through on goal before being dragged down with only the keeper to beat.
If it hadn’t been a friendly the Croatian defender would have surely been given his marching orders but a yellow card was generously brandished by the referee.
Then, in the 89th minute, the fragility of the goalless scoreline was cruelly exposed when Mioc slammed past Gunn from a rare Osijek counter attack.
There was time left only for Rusnak to be denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty in the last seconds which confirmed the narrowest of defeats for the EDS in their first pre-season engagement.
Earlier in the day, Jason Wilcox's City u19s selection were edged out 3-2 by NK Rijeka.
England youth international midfielder Kean Bryan scored twice for the Blues but two missed penalties either side of half-time cost City dear in a tight but entertaining encounter.
The boy Blues fought back from 2-0 and 3-1 down but just couldn’t force the equaliser despite an encouraging second-half display.
All three age-groups are in action for the final time on Friday before returning to the UK the following day.
The u21s play Gorica, the u19 selection face Olimpija and the u17 pool take on Domzale.