Great Comeback gives Narrow Lead
Premier League U21s Cup Final 1st Leg
Thursday 10th April 2014
City: Lawlor(GK), Drury, Leigh(Tasende), Facey, Denayer, Glendon(Fofana), Bytyqi, Ntcham, Hiwula, Lopes(Capt.), Cole
Goals: Cole(2), Lopes
Unused: O’Brien(GK), Plummer, Bossaerts
City made hard work to take a narrow lead into the second leg of the inaugural U21s premier league cup when they travel to the Madejski stadium next Saturday after the young blues came from two nil down to win three two with goals from Marcos Lopes and a brace from Devante Cole .
The first opportunity to win some silverware in the U21s has been a result of City winning four previous ties with three of them being away from home and the semi-final at home to Burnley but this final round was the first to be played over two legs with no away goals, conceding goals would not really be an issue as long as the game was won with as big a cushion as possible.
City started the game well and were looking dangerous in and around the area and should have taken the lead as early as the eleventh minute when good work down the right led to a cross from Adam Drury which found Jordy Hiwula who was unmarked but he failed to keep his header down and the ball went just over the crossbar.
That good chance was left behind, as just a minute later City found themselves a goal behind when a free kick from the right was only half cleared and George Glendon was left a little flat-footed as an inswinging cross came in and City’s defence were too static as three Reading players ran in but the oldest player on the pitch Gozie Ugwu(12 days away from his 21st birthday) got there first to head past Ian Lawlor.
City then organised themselves a lot better after conceding that goal and started to control possession and force Reading back and again City were looking dangerous with neat balls to feet in and around the area and indeed forced a few corners from that play and such a corner that was not cleared by Reading eventually fell to Jason Denayer and he had a first time shot but unfortunately it was straight at Daniel Lincoln in the Reading goal.
That chance again was left feeling like a distant memory as just a couple of minutes later Reading had doubled their advantage with a break on the left side where City were left out numbered on the break but Craig Tanner held off the City rear-guard run and he slid in a shot that Lawlor appeared to get down to but unfortunately it squirmed under his body and rolled into the goal.
City though saw Lawlor keep the Blues in the tie with just over five minutes of the half remaining when City were playing a high line up the pitch they lost possession and the ball was played through to Ugwu who beat the offside trap and ran through on goal but Ian came off his line and spread himself well and his strong leg stopped the big powerful forward’s shot from going past the young Irishman and into the City goal.
The roles were reversed however with the swift reply as this time it was City that took advantage within a minute as George Glendon’s persistence enabled him to dispossess the Reading player and he played a good ball forward to Marcos Lopes in the oppositions half and he turned and forced the defence back before playing a slide rule pass through to Cole who beat the offside and fire hard and low past Lincoln into the far corner of the goal.
Clearly a calm and forthright half time team talk by Vieira seemed to have galvanized City along with the late City goal in the first half as they came out of the traps with real purpose and created a really good chance in the fifth minute when strong play by Greg Leigh on the left allowed him to play a really good ball down the line and around the Reading defender into the path of Olivier Ntcham and his well-drilled low cross look to find a City player but everyone failed to get any contact on it.
Vieira decided the formation needed a change as he brought on Seko Fofana to be a more holding midfielder and sit in front of the back four and control the game more from there as he sacrificed Glendon’s all action style.
Despite his more deeper role; that did not stop Fofana getting forward and letting his thumping right footed shots go and one that forced Lincoln into a good save low to his left that he was just able to turn behind for the corner.
That chance was not taken advantage on for long as just a couple of minutes later Devante Cole got himself down the left and round the keeper but the angle was too tight and so he squared the ball back to Marcos Lopes who fired in his shot but there was Jake Cooper on the line but he decided to use his arm to stop the ball crossing the line and so he was given a straight red card from Premiership referee Lee Mason and he correctly awarded City the penalty. Lopes was the man to step forward and take responsibility as he calmly stroked the ball into the corner of the goal as he sent Lincoln the wrong way.
City really had the bit between their teeth now and were piling forward with numbers at every opportunity and Reading’s defence was being pulled all over the place but City however were not testing Lincoln too much in the goal except a deflected Ntcham shot that looped over him but cannoned of the top of the crossbar.
City finally completely overturned that two goal deficit in the ninetieth minute when pressing up on the right side Lopes made an over lapping run into the area which Bytyqi saw and he played the through ball in and the cross came into the near post but Lincoln failed to get to it properly and the ball eventually fell to Cole and he was able to fire in from close range to make the near five thousand crowd very happy.
That narrow lead should be to City’s advantage in the early stages of the second leg at the Madejski as Reading will clearly not want to be to open and concede an early goal. However in-between the two games; City’s U21s will travel to Newcastle on Monday night for a crucial league game that they could do with winning to help secure a play-off place.
Posted in EDS Match Reports by Gavin Cooper/Andrew Waldon.