Davies (6 mins), Birch (77 mins)
Ntcham (5 mins)
- Match reports
- 01 March 2014 14:13
- Posted by @porter_mcfc / pics by @VHaydn_mcfc
City under-18s surrendered top spot in the league with a 2-1 defeat to Everton in the Merseyside sunshine.
The Blues took an early lead through Parisian midfielder Olivier Ntcham, but the Toffees struck once in each half to claim all three points and leapfrog City into first place.
City went into the game two points ahead of their Everton counterparts, but with two games in hand.
A 4-1 win over the Merseyside outfit at Platt Lane back in November was the springboard for the surge to the top, coming near the start of a 13 game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Since then, ten members of the side involved that day had travelled to Spain as part of Patrick Vieira’s under-19 squad that emerged victorious from the clash with Atletico Madrid to book a place in the quarter finals of the inaugural UEFA Youth League.
Injuries forced Wilcox into a reshuffled back line, with Charlie Oliver returning to the starting XI alongside makeshift centre back Kean Bryan, who is used to plying his trade further up the pitch. After a dazzling performance in Madrid, Billy O’Brien returned to under-18 league action between the sticks, while Angelino and Ambrose also retained their starting places after Wednesday night’s exertions.
Bersant Celina and Brandon Barker were tasked with supporting Ambrose from the wings.
The Blues got off to a dream start when Ntcham pounced on a defensive error and calmly tucked the ball home after just five minutes.
But City were brought back down to earth swiftly when Tom Davies equalised for the hosts just three minutes later, scrambling the ball over the line from close range.
Dominating possession in the early stages, the Blues might have felt aggrieved to lose their lead so quickly, but they struggled to create meaningful chances to go ahead once more. Ambrose shot too close to the keeper from a tight angle after being played in by Denzeil Boadu, while Ash Smith-Brown and Celina were unable to prevent their efforts from sailing over the bar.
"City’s best chance fell to Jack Byrne, who forced the keeper into an excellent save with a powerful volley from the edge of the area. From the resulting corner, it was the City stopper O’Brien who had to be alert, rushing out to narrow the angle after Callum Dyson had run in behind the Blues’ backline."
...Everton v City...
It was all square at the break, and City emerged for the second half determined to break their hosts’ resistance and convert their possession into goals. It might have been two within 60 seconds, Ambrose leaping on another misplaced pass to play in Ntcham, but the goalkeeper pushed away his effort and Boadu sent the rebound narrowly wide.
The game became increasingly even as the minutes ticked by, and the Everton defence remained strong in thwarting City attacks.
Growing in confidence, the Toffees began to mount some moves of their own, and forced a number of corners and throw-ins in quick succession, while O’Brien did well to hang onto a free kick taken from a dangerous position.
The hosts’ persistence eventually paid off after 77 minutes, sub Arlen Birch beating O’Brien with an excellent shot from the 18 yard line which crept inside the far post.
Determined to see reward for their efforts, City kept probing but the opposition stood firm in protecting their lead.
Barker was an ever lively presence down the left, seeing a shot blocked and putting in a teasing delivery which only just evaded the lurking Boadu and Ambrose.
But the boy Blues could not find a way through, and Everton held on to take all three points.
Wilcox’s young charges will seek to put this result behind them and bounce back when they face Middlesbrough on Saturday.