Hopper 55mins & 88mins, St Ledger 84mins
Cole 29mins, Ntcham 52mins
- Match reports
- 23 April 2014 20:58
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
City Elite Development Squad have left themselves work to do on the final day in order to reach the u21 Premier League play-offs.
Patrick Vieira’s men now know they must beat Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon if they are to reach the four-team finals after a 3-2 defeat away at Leicester City.
For a long time it was looking like a perfect response to a disheartening weekend which saw them miss the chance to claim the inaugural u21 Premier League Cup with their 4-3 aggregate defeat to Reading.
Then, like on Saturday, two goals in four second half minutes turned the match on its head and dealt the Blues a serious blow for their chances of landing the title.
City could hardly have faced a tougher task after their cup final disappointment, coming up against the league’s in-form side.
Leicester came into the match looking to end their season on a high and continue an excellent sequence of results which have seen them win six and draw one of their last seven games to secure a top-half finish before the two-tier split in 2014/15.
A win would put City touching distance of the play-offs due to their superior goal difference to third place Fulham, who have completed their 21 fixtures, but they were without a trio of the season’s key contributors.
Adam Drury, Jason Denayer and Marcos Lopes were missing from the squad, opening the door for Mathias Bossaerts, Ellis Plummer and Sinan Bytyqi to come back into the XI and for a quintet of under-18s to take up the places on the bench.
With rain bucketing down from kick-off, wayward first touches and overhit passes were endemic of a gentle opening 20 minutes as both sides struggled to get to terms with the run of the ball.
That said, perhaps City will feel slightly hard done by at the fact they weren’t awarded a fifth minute penalty when Greg Leigh looked to be tripped as he maraudered forward into the area from left-back.
"Bytyqi warmed Adam Smith’s fingertips with a 25 yard free-kick but it was a goal out of nothing on 29 minutes that brought the game to life."
...Leicester v City...
If it was a stroke of fortune that a tame, innocuous pass deflected off a Leicester defender into Cole’s path, there was nothing lucky about the finish, as the England youth international danced inside from the left and curled the ball around the goalkeeper into the top, far corner.
All of a sudden, City were forcing the issue and piling forward to try and find the second goal and they would have had it if Cole had converted from close range after Bytyqi played the ball across the face of goal.
Still, Vieira wouldn’t have to wait long to see his side double their advantage – just seven minutes after the restart it was two, thanks to another instinctive finish – this time from Ntcham.
The Parisian swivelled on the edge of the Foxes box and, while falling backwards, toe-poked the ball into the very bottom corner.
Leicester hit back immediately afterwards with a goal that angered the City bench.
Presumably, Vieira felt that Leicester forward Hopper had strayed into an offside position to meet Jacob Blyth’s knockdown before tapping into the unguarded net.
Despite the protestations, the goal stood and the Foxes had their tails up with half an hour left to find the equaliser.
Just when it looked like the makeshift partnership of Leigh and Plummer was going to dig in and protect City three priceless points, disaster struck - Leicester netted twice in five minutes to win the day.
On both occasions, long, lofted balls were fired into the City box and the away side struggled to clear them, allowing Sean St Ledger and Hopper to pounce and wrap up the win.
City now must beat Aston Villa on Sunday to book their place in the finals.
Seasoncard holders can attend the game at the Etihad Stadium for free on Sunday at Midday.
Further details can be found here.