Fofana 30mins, Bytyqi 37mins, Cole 51mins, Hiwula 68mins
Bolton Wanderers 0
- Match reports
- 05 February 2014 20:44
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
City Elite Development Squad’s incredible winning run shows no sign of ending any time soon.
Patrick Vieira's side have now not been beaten at under-21 level since 6 October 2013, winning their last nine in all competitions.
For this latest victory against an in-form Bolton side, Seko Fofana and Sinan Bytyqi weighed in with first-half strikes, before Devante Cole and Jordy Hiwula completed the scoring after the break on a blustery, bitterly cold night under the lights at Hyde FC.
City went into the match knowing that they could move up as high as third in the Barclays u21 Premier League with a win, while Bolton could leapfrog the Blues by taking all three points.
Vieira made one enforced change from the side that defeated Manchester United in the mini derby last time out, nine days ago.
With Emyr Huws now out on loan at Birmingham City, Marcos Lopes returned from first-team duty to captain the side, making his first under-21 appearance since the victory over Wolves at the start of January.
This prompted a slight adjustment from Vieira, who shunted City’s derby day hero George Glendon to the base of midfield in front of the settled back four of Adam Drury, Shay Facey, Jason Denayer and Greg Leigh.
Cole and Bytyqi continued in the 4-3-3 wide berths, either side of top-scorer Jordy Hiwula, with Lopes in the no.10 role behind.
Visitors Bolton were a point behind the hosts, having played two games more in the league and were aiming to put together successive wins in the competition after their 3-2 triumph over Aston Villa last Monday.
The Trotters started the game brightly and could have been a goal up inside the first two minutes when Leigh’s attempted clearance fell fortuitously to Bolton’s top scorer Conor Wilkinson but the no.9 failed to work Ian Lawlor in the City goal, firing high over the crossbar.
"That missed opportunity seemed to wake the home side up and they began to settle into their usual high intensity press, neat passing triangles and expansive wing play, with Drury and Leigh stretching the pitch with their marauding runs from full-back."
...City EDS v Bolton...
However, it was a moment of individual brilliant supplied by Lopes that almost put City in front after nine minutes, as the precocious Portuguese playmaker turned his marker back, forth and back again, to work space for a shot which ricocheted back off the foot of the post.
By the 20th minute Fofana, Glendon and Lopes wrestled control of the midfield third and began to dictate the tempo of the game between them, with Denayer offering an extra man with surging, long-limbed strides out of defence.
There were a couple of cautionary moments when Lawlor was required to save at the end of Bolton counter-attacks but the Blues were enjoying all of the possession.
Bolton stood strong under increasing waves of pressure until the half-hour mark when Lopes intercepted a ball out of the opposition defence and laid it off to Fofana who crashed the ball home with a thunderous strike from outside the area which found the bottom corner of Lynch’s goal.
Six minutes later, City had doubled their advantage.
It was another strike from outside the box – this time from Bytyqi - but, perhaps Lynch will have been disappointed to see the ball squirm under his body, although the Austrian’s shot had plenty of power on it and conditions weren’t conducive to solid handling.
A ninth-successive win at under-21 was looking likely at the break, with the 2-0 half-time scoreline made all the more impressive by the fact that City were playing into strong wind and horizontal rain for the first 45.
With the conditions favouring the home side at the turnaround, it was no surprise that they were able to further improve the scoreline.
Cole scored the best goal of the night five minutes after the break, dancing inside off the left touchline before opening up his body to bend the ball around the goalkeeper from 25 yards out, finding the inside of the post on its way into the net.
Hiwula bundled home a close range rebound after a good save by Lynch to complete the rout with 20 minutes to go.
Bolton enjoyed their best spell of the game in the closing 15 minutes but the destination of the points had been known for some time by then.
City will hope to make it ten-in-a-row when they are next in action on Monday night away at Reading.