Cole 32mins, Rusnak 41mins, Pozo 51mins, Suarez (pen) 76mins
Stoke City 1
Boyata OG 45mins
- Match reports
- Fri 22 Feb 2013, 8:53PM
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
Jose Angel Pozo scored his seventh goal in six City starts to fire the Blues to the top of National Group 2 in the Barclays u21 Premier League.
The 16-year old forward also laid on goals for Rusnak and Cole in an impressive 4-1 victory for City Elite Development Squad on a night in Hyde some 15 degrees chillier than Pozo’s native Malaga.
Attilio Lombardo opted to make two changes from the side which won Monday’s Lancashire Senior Cup tie against Blackpool on penalties, welcoming Denis Suarez back from international duty with Spain u20s and bringing Ellis Plummer into the heart of the back four.
Wales u21 midfielder Emyr Huws captained the side in the absence of George Evans who had to settle for a place on the bench and with Karim Rekik away on loan at Blackburn Rovers until the end of the season.
The visitors were yet to register a point in 2013, so it was unsurprising to see that the pattern was set early in this game, with the Potters content to keep two resolute banks of four in front of their penalty area, challenging City to break them down.
City dominated possession in the early stages but found chances hard to come by as Stoke’s trio of terriers Heneghan, Ward and Sanders marshalled the menacing quintet of Suarez, Pozo, Lopes, Rusnak and Cole with distinction.
Anyone present familiar with the rugged playing style of Stoke’s first-team would have instantly recognised that it’s a philosophy that extends down the age-groups.
This physical approach clearly irked members of the City team at times and on one occasion Suarez received a lengthy talking to from referee Phil Dermot after he kicked the ball away in frustration.
However, City cooled flaring tempers after 32 minutes when Spanish duo Suarez and Pozo combined beautifully on the left side of the penalty area, with the latter providing Cole with the chance to back-heel the opening goal from six-yards out.
City doubled their advantage ten minutes later when Rusnak profited from more devilish dribbling from Pozo to fire in a deflected strike from the edge of the area.
It would have been easy for Stoke to throw in the towel but they hit back on the stroke of half-time when Dedryck Boyata was unfortunate to turn Adam Thomas’s cross into his own net to halve their arrears.
That Potters goal gave City something to think about at half-time – ending any notion that the game might be over as a contest.
City twice gave away leads in their last league game, the 3-3 draw against Bolton at the start of the month, but they weren’t in such a forgiving mood this time around.
Pozo had already set two of City’s goals up but it was his turn to write his name on the scoresheet five minutes into the second period, slotting home a slick finish after sublime work by Huws on the left flank.
Lombardo's men continued to control the game and had chances to get a fourth goal of the night through Rusnak, Suarez and Lopes but eventually they broke through again with 15 minutes remaining courtesy of an expertly-taken Suarez penalty after Shay Facey was taken down just inside the area.
All in all, a truly impressive night's work from the boy Blues and the perfect preparation for Tuesday night's FA Youth Cup fifth round tie at Pride Park against Derby.