- Match reports
- 01 December 2012 13:21
- Posted by Mark Booth
City u18s finished off their league campaign for Christmas with a morale boosting and deserved 1-0 win over Wolves.
The Blues already knew that a sixth place finish was all but guaranteed but finished level on points with the day’s visitors after Jack Byrne scored the game’s only goal.
This season’s Barclays U18s Premier League campaign has had a steep learning curve for Adam Sadler’s men but his team signed off with a committed and attractive performance that belied the players’ years.
Sadler reacted to the 5-2 defeat to Crystal Palace last time out by naming an even younger side which included Bersant Celina for the first time this season, as well as Tosin Adarabioyo fresh from his Victory Shield exploits with England Schoolboys.
Another player making his under-18s season bow was Angus Gunn who made his first start of the season after recovering from his hip injury sustained in the summer and he showed no ill effect of the lay-off, making a string of fine first-half saves.
The opening half was one of the most entertaining of the season so far, with both goalkeepers having to be at their very best to keep it goalless.
City shaded the best chances of that opening period, their best arriving on 20 minutes after a flowing move between James Hardy, Byrne and Aaron Nemane.
Nemane did brilliantly to pick out Dominic McHale in the penalty area but the forward’s effort was too close to Jonathan Flatt in the Wolves goal.
City nearly pulled ahead in the 38th minute when Ashley Smith-Brown seized upon a loose ball after a corner, flicked the ball up over two men with great technique and fired a vicious volley which once again brought a great save from Flatt.
It had been goalless at half-time last time the sides met at the start of October but Wolves had scored three second half goals to record a convincing win.
This time it was City who had the best of it after the break.
After 55 minutes Norwegian flyer Bersant Celina charged down the left flank, twisted and turned his marker and dug out a cross from the by-line which Byrne met on the volley, down into the ground and over the stranded Flatt.
It could have got worse for the visitors too, as Byrne nearly doubled his tally with a measured, curling strike which came back off the post and McHale saw a deflected drive whistle agonizingly past the post.
The visitors rallied and finished the game strongly, forcing Gunn into another great save but the Blues held firm and recorded a first win since 29 September.
With the league campaign now wrapped up for 2012, the under-18s can look forward to their FA Youth Cup tie against Sunderland which takes place at Hyde on 12 December.