- Match reports
- 17 December 2012 16:43
- Posted by Mark Booth
Attilio Lombardo’s Elite Development Squad signed off for 2012 with a battling 1-1 draw at home to Fulham.
A spectacular 40 yard from George Evans cancelled out an early strike from the visitors to make honours even in a full-blooded affair at a sodden Platt Lane.
City knew that a win would propel them into Qualification Tier One when the league resumes after Christmas and a point would be enough to see them climb off the bottom of the table.
Attilio Lombardo was able to name a strong XI, bolstered by Denis Suarez and Albert Rusnak, who both made returns to the starting line-up after their long injury lay-offs.
Karim Rekik was named on the substitute bench for the first-team’s 3-1 win over Newcastle at the weekend and he returned to captain the Elite Development Squad.
Despite the game taking place at 2pm, it was a dark, dreary backdrop that greeted the visit of the Cottagers which made for a scrappy opening half in which the sides dug trenches and bedded in for a bruising midfield battle that Fulham gained the upper hand in after 17 minutes.
Tricky Fulham winger Charles Banya pitched a teasing ball into the penalty area and Eirik Johansen’s punch dropped favourably for Ryan Williams to power home from 15 yards.
City responded well to the set-back and created chances to level, with Luca Scapuzzi assuming the role of architect for a flurry of opportunities on the half-hour mark.
First, Suarez was unable to turn his lay-off towards goal, with the ball drifting wide from a vicious strike, before Marcos Lopes tested Neil Etheridge in the Fulham goal.
Lombardo gambled at half-time, sacrificing Rusnak for striker Devante Cole who joined Scapuzzi upfront in the pursuit of an equaliser.
They didn’t have to wait long as Evans arrived first onto a clearance from Etheridge and let fly from close to the half way line with a measured but powerful strike that crept into the far corner.
It was an audacious effort from the midfielder who was first to every ball in this encounter and showcased his supreme passing range in midfield.
It could have got even better for City in the second half as Suarez, Ntcham and Drury terrorized the visitors with their pace and power but it was the totem of Scapuzzi that had the half's best opportunity, turning a Pozo shot onto the crossbar from close range with 10 minutes to go.
Lopes, Drury and Pozo had late half chances but a combination of good goalkeeping and misfortune kept honours even.
City EDS finish in sixth position and will start the second half of the season in Qualification Group Two.
We’ll bring you news of who they will face in 2013 as soon as we hear on mcfc.co.uk.