- Match reports
- 26 August 2014 20:49
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc / pics by @vhaydn_mcfc
City took their first point of their Barclays u21 Premier League season on a mild late summer’s eve at Ewen Fields.
Jordy Hiwula had given his side the lead with his first goal of the season after 25 minutes but Duncan Watmore’s breakaway equaliser three minutes before the break denied Patrick Vieira’s men the three points from a match they had just shaded.
City suffered a 2-1 defeat to reigning champions Chelsea in their opening league match at Aldershot but could reflect on a positive performance in which they controlled the majority of the game against an older, more experienced outfit for the majority of the 90 minutes.
Vieira’s side followed this up with a 1-0 friendly win over UEFA Youth League semi-finalists Schalke last week, meaning confidence in the camp was high that a first three points of the season could be picked up in the familiar surrounds of Hyde FC.
Shay Facey’s suspension for the sending off he received at Chelsea doesn’t kick in until Sunday’s meeting with West Ham, so the defender was clear to take his position in the back four alongside Maffeo who has enjoyed an impressive start to his campaign.
A thrilling 6-2 win over the Black Cats at the Etihad Stadium was one of the high points of last season and lived long in the memory thanks to Seko Fofana’s stunning 35-yard piledriver.
The Parisian kept his place in midfield where he was joined by Jack Byrne, who is celebrating a week to remember, thanks to his call-up to the Ireland u21s set-up for their match against Germany next week.
With 13 eligible youngsters out on loan up and down the country and across the continent, Vieira may not have been expecting another six-goal romp in his side’s favour, but City were fortunate not to be behind after eight minutes.
Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore pounced on an errant pass out of defence and drove towards goal but he pulled his shot across the face of goal and wide when he really should have at least tested Gunn.
After that early wake-up call, the home side settled into their usual possession-based game, probing and prying for gaps in the Black Cats backline, moving the ball from left to right and back again with a mixture of long, short, forward, back and sideways passes.
The Mackems refused to grow dizzy at the angle and variety of City’s approach play; perfectly content to sit on the edge of their area and let the opposition play their football in front of them.
The City no.9’s frustration would last just eight minutes as on the 25 minute mark he gave his side the lead with his first league goal of the season.
Sinan Bytyqi drifted inside from his left flank and threaded through a pass which was measured to perfection, allowing Jordy to take the ball under his duress and drive past the last defender to dispatch his strike coolly past Maksymillian Stryjek.
That goal immediately served to open the game up and allowed City to take control as the visitors could no longer allow the hosts to dictate terms but Sunderland rode the wave and found an equaliser against the run of play with two minutes of the half remaining.
Just moments after Hiwula fired a chance to make it 2-0 straight at Styjek, a punt forward from a Sunderland defender was seized upon by Watmore, who atoned for his earlier miss, nervelessly taking the ball around Gunn before slotting into the empty net.
That goal bred confidence in the Sunderland ranks and they enjoyed their best spell in the game in the quarter of an hour which followed the break but City defended with diligence and began to create chances to regain their lead.
The excellent Byqtyi went closest on 67 minutes but he drew the very best out of Styjek when he cut inside with an eye-catching turn and fired it in at the keeper’s near post.
Thierry Ambrose, Kean Bryan and Olivier Ntcham were all brought on in the remaining minutes but, despite being good value for a win, City couldn’t find the winning goal and had to be satisfied with one point.
They are next in action against West Ham at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday at 3pm.