Friday, 14 August 2015

City EDS 3-3 Spurs

Following on from Monday night's 2-2 draw against Southampton, this was another hard fought contest against one of better teams at this level. Spurs are no mugs with regards to youth development with a long line of graduates already to show in recent years. This is another promising group, and it showed. They're organised, strong and technically astute - a very effective unit. They pressed well, often forcing City onto the back foot and it made the first half in particular uncomfortable for Vieira's side. It was more than little reminiscent of the games between the two last year, a game that also finished 3-3, and it was to no surprise that Spurs took the lead early on. Glendon gave the ball away under pressure, Spurs countered well and their forward finished clinically. It was deserved. City settled, eventually, and after some decent spells of possession we levelled before half time. Bersant Celina was the creator, popping up on the left hand side, he cleverly jinked past the right back before squaring it to Ambrose who slid the ball in from six yards out. Spurs could have had a couple of more from a few sharp, incisive breaks but the heroics of Angus Gunn kept the game level as the whistle blew for half-time. Words were clearly said during the break in play as City came out stronger, notably more confident and direct.

We took the lead not long after from a wonderful Garcia strike. The ball broke loose as he looked to play a one two and he was the first to react, bursting into the area before rocketing the ball into the roof of the net. It was just reward for the renewed vigour we'd approached the restart with, but unfortunately the lead didn't last long. A mix up between Maffeo and Gunn at the backpost, as a header cannoned back off the woodwork, saw Spurs equalise barely minutes later. City's response was immediate, confidently regaining their composure and passing it around well creating a few decent openings, only to be let down by indecisiveness or the wrong ball. The goal didn't come and, typically, they were hit by a real sucker punch though in 89th minute. Spurs won a corner, and their forward rose highest to head in to Spurs 3-2 up with barely a handful of minutes remaining. Remarkably, we responded almost immediately, something of a trait of the youth teams, and an admirable one too. Barker burst free down the left, impressively beating his fullback barely a minute later, before brilliantly pulling it back for Celina to cap off an excellent game to level at 3-3. That was to be the last say of any note, and truth be told it was a fair result in the end for a game that went a long way towards brightening up a particularly dour and damp down in East Manchester.

Vieira had named more or less an identical team to the one that lined up against Southampton, with Ambrose being the only change as he stepped in up top instead of Jose Pozo. That meant a back four of Maffeo, Humphreys, Evans and Smith-Brown ahead of Angus Gunn, with Garcia, Glendon and Celina pulling the strings in midfield. Ambrose was joined up top by Nemane and Barker. Celina was the standout, impressing as he shuttled about midfield to real effect. It's his first season as a regular at the EDS and the early signs are encouraging. He's a technically excellent footballer, capable of the spectacular and he added to his goal against Southampton with another today, an excellent assist too. If he continues to grow and work hard and succeeds in marrying those traits with his clearly wonderful footballing ability then he'll go very far. It could be a big year for him. Barker alongside him played well too. He's not had it easy in either game so far, up against fast, strong fullbacks but he's done very well. Kyle Walker-Peters, Spurs right-back, is as good a fullback as you'll find at this level, and Barker gave him a tough time. He looked strong, alert and it was his persistence and pace that lead to the last minute equaliser. 

Nemane had a good run out, darting at his defender with pace and purpose, though he was let down by his decision making. He burst through well a few times, finding himself in promising positions only to take one touch too many when it mattered. He's still only seventeen though, and that will come. He was replaced by Faupala after an hour who, if i'm being honest, had very little involvement once again as a sub. Maybe a few more appearances are needed to settle into the team. Garcia was better - I was a little critical of his performance against Southampton, too passive and on periphery of the game, and he started this match in a similar way initially. He did however improve after the break, getting forward well and supporting the attack. He took his goal excellently. A real instinctive finish, and that's something he'll look to develop throughout the campaign. Glendon was purposeful, though he was unfortunately caught out a few times in the middle as Spurs pushed forward. Not his best, but not terrible either. Humphreys looked out of sorts and was replaced after half hour, be it tactically or through injury i'm none the wiser but it wasn't a comfortable opening for the sixteen year old. Kean Bryan came on for him and had a good game, and much more assured as a centre-back than George Evans is alongside him, both usually midfielders. Not necessarily Evans' fault, but his future definitely doesn't lie at the back. He's a midfielder, definitely.

Maffeo put in some typically strong tackles - he has a real knack for nicking the ball away where others would give away freekicks, yet he was a little open defensively at times. He suffered a little from the Micah Richards syndrome, struggling to get back in time after he'd burst forward well. Smith-Brown had a steady game at left-back, though like Maffeo over on the right found himself out of position a few times as Spurs broke. Thierry Ambrose continued his recovery from injury with another impressive display, all energy and endeavour, grabbing his second in as many games. He's a much more natural forward than Jose Pozo and he lead the line well. Angus Gunn made a few good saves and looked his usually reliable self, despite the confusion that lead to their second goal and Jorge Intima made a late appearance, though he barely registered a touch as the game finally settled at 3-3. It was a far from perfect performance, but there was positives to be had. Barker looked strong, Celina composed and Ambrose scored another. Garcia clearly responded well to his instructions at half-time, and the team's persistence to maintaing the passing game was admirable. It's early days in this fledgling season and it'll be fascinating to see how some of the newer additions fully develop as the months progress. Next step up for the EDS is the first round of the Premier League International Cup at the CFA. Victorious last year after a dogged display against Porto, they start their defence of their title against Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday evening. 

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