Ambrose (5 mins), Barker (14 mins, 90 mins)
Sellars (10 mins, 39 mins), McKirdy (18 mins)
- Match reports
- 29 March 2014 15:15
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
City under-18s salvaged a valuable draw in injury time against Aston Villa to extend their unbeaten run to four games in the Premier League North Division.
The Blues trailed 3-2 at the break, despite taking the lead twice with goals from Thierry Ambrose and Brandon Barker, but managed to rescue a point in the dying seconds with Barker's second strike of the afternoon.
Although the result was harsh on Villa, who had defended stoically throughout the second half, a draw was probably a fair reflection on the game as City had dominated possession for much of the game.
On a warm, sunny afternoon at Platt Lane, manager Jason Wilcox opted to field the same side that came from behind to defeat Liverpool 2-1 last time out.
Matthias Bossaerts partnered Tosin Adarabioyo in the centre of defence, with Nathaniel Oseni and Ashley Smith-Brown working as full-backs. Jack Byrne - continuing his comeback from injury - protected the back four, with Bersant Celina and Denzeil Boadu playing in an advanced role.
Jorge Intima and Barker took their positions on the wings, whilst Ambrose operated as a lone striker. Once again, Angelino was absent, after featuring in last night's 6-2 win for the under-21s at the Etihad Stadium whilst Kean Bryan - also picked in Patrick Vieira's squad - was named on the bench.
The Blues went into this clash in the knowledge that five points from their remaining games would ensure qualification to the play-offs and Wilcox's side secured the perfect start with a goal inside five minutes.
It was a move that started inside City's own area though. After Billy O'Brien made a great save from a powerful Aston Villa effort, the Blues regained possession and countered immediately - releasing Ambrose, who jinked his way through the visitors' defence before coolly slotting the ball past Craig Hill.
It was the perfect start for the boy Blues but their joy was short lived as Villa equalised within five minutes as Jerell Sellars squeezed a shot inside the near post.
That goal was a shock to the system for the home side but they responded well and restored the lead on 14 minutes. Following some neat build-up play, the ball fell to Barker inside the area and the winger created some space for himself before firing the ball into the bottom corner.
Once again though, Villa bounced back shortly after. When a high, looping cross was headed back across goal, Harry McKirdy reacted quickest, attempting an overhead kick which deceived O'Brien and bounced into the net.
After the goal rush of the opening twenty minutes, there was a comparative drought until the 39th minute although O'Brien was definitely the busier of the two goalkeepers. As the half wore on, Villa began to dominate possession and were unlucky not to take the lead on numerous occasions. On the half-hour mark, Tom Strain's low effort was well-saved, before Khalid Abdo's free-kick was parried away for a corner.
The visitors claimed more of a foothold in the game and the Blues became frustrated, conceding cheap free-kicks and giving the ball away all too often. Byrne was carded on 38 minutes with a late challenge before Villa made their momentum count a minute later.
It was Sellars again who was put through on goal and he gave Villa the lead for the first time in the game with an emphatic finish that went in off the crossbar to make it 2-3 at half-time.
Within a minute of the restart, tempers had flared as a small scuffle broke out in the centre circle. Following the commotion, Celina was booked although City were awarded the free-kick.
The Blues were much more direct in the second period and were unlucky not to find the equaliser on 50 minutes. As Ambrose was about to unleash a shot, the ball was smothered at his feet before. The referee brought play back for a free-kick a minute later, despite the fact Celina was clean through on goal. The resulting set-piece was weak and easily saved.
City were then forced into a goalkeeping change as Charlie Albinson replaced O'Brien. That stoppage was followed by several others which hampered the Blues' momentum and Villa regained a spell of possession.
Chances were few and far between in the second half as neither side could break down the opposition. On 73 minutes, Wilcox replaced Intima and Byrne with Bryan and Manuel Garcia but the substitutes couldn't find a way through the packed Villa defence.
That was until the 90th minute when - following some patient build-up - Ambrose chipped the ball over the back line to Barker, whose volley had just enough pace to trickle over the line and into the back of the net.