Ambrose 12mins, Barker 59mins(pen), Bryan 71mins
West Ham 0
- Match reports
- 12 April 2014 14:16
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
City u18s took another step towards claiming the North Division title with a comfortable victory over West Ham at Platt Lane.
Both teams came into this clash looking to secure all three points, but for differing reasons.
While City had already secured their own play-off spot, West Ham remain locked in a four-way scrap with Spurs, Fulham and Chelsea for the right to progress as one of the top two from the Southern Division.
Meanwhile, the boy Blues were seeking to win all of their remaining games to enter the post-season knock-out fixtures with maximum momentum, as well as aiming to top the North Division and be drawn at home for the one-off semi-final tie.
The Blues could not mathematically be confirmed as group winners on this occasion, but victory over the Hammers coupled with a vastly superior goal difference over the second-placed Toffees would go a long way towards securing top spot.
Comprehensive 3-0 victories over Wolves and Norwich in the past ten days saw City enter this game with confidence, and Jason Wilcox made just two changes from the side that was so comfortable against the Canaries.
Ambrose started up front looking for his 21st goal of a remarkable debut campaign, while Barker was aiming to build on his recent goalscoring exploits – the England youth international had scored four in his previous two fixtures.
The Blues started in typically attacking fashion and could count themselves unlucky not to be awarded a penalty within the first minute when Jorge Intima was felled in the box, but the referee waved away the protests.
Shortly afterward Barker unleashed one of his trademark drives from the left which troubled the keeper through sheer power, but he managed to gather at the second attempt to stop the ball spinning over the line.
City were controlling possession in the early stages and seeking to make the dominance count, but Billy O’Brien in the City goal was called upon to make a fantastic stop from a West Ham counter attack, getting his hand to Marcio Martin’s attempt to slide the ball home at the far post.
It took just 12 minutes for the Blues to make their bright start pay, when a Jack Byrne corner was flicked on by a combination of Nathaniel Oseni and Tosin Adarabioyo, and Ambrose was on hand to head home.
Celebrations might have been shortlived but for the intervention of the post, as West Ham won a free kick just 60 seconds later which evaded everyone waiting in the six yard box and nearly crept in.
Keen to heed the warning shot, the rest of the half belonged firmly to the Blues. Intima fired just wide of the post under some pressure, Denzeil Boadu hit the post and the Hammers’ keeper had to be brave to gather a long ball in front of the England youth international just two minutes later.
Barker and Maffeo also had chances to double the lead before the break, but neither could keep their efforts on target.
West Ham did have a couple of chances themselves, but were frustrated to see Kieran Bywater’s free kick fly over the crossbar, while City were able to scramble a dangerous corner clear after O’Brien failed to gather.
City maintained their narrow advantage at the half time whistle, but were determined to make their chances count after the break and Ambrose was unlucky to see his shot deflected into the keeper’s gloves after Intima had skipped through the defence.
Unwilling to give the first penalty shout, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot just before the hour mark when Ambrose was taken down, and Barker calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to open up a two goal cushion.
Jack Byrne was a constant thorn in the side for the Hammers, winning possession in the centre and causing problems with his accurate set pieces. One corner led to a chance for Oseni, while another not long after nearly forced the defender to turn it into his own net.
In the end it was sub Kean Bryan who made sure of the three points, making his way beyond the defence and shooting accurately into the corner for City’s third with 20 minutes still to play.
It was a professional display from the boy Blues, who saw out the remainder of the game despite a West Ham free kick threatening to wipe away the clean sheet, and it was a thoroughly deserved victory as they continue to finish the regular season strongly.