Like the EDS last night, this was a bright, powerful and confident display of football. City were strong, and if anything the scoreline flattered Stoke as Wilcox's men comprehensively outplayed the visitors from the off. it should have been more, and it would have been too if it wasn't for several missed chances in the second half, including a penalty that Buckley won and then fired straight at the keeper, and some whipped, teasing crosses from the substitute and u18s debutant Jadon Sancho. It remained at two, but it was impressive either way, especially considering the numerous regulars who weren't available for selection. Nmecha, Patching and Duhaney all sat out the game following their involvement with the EDS last night, and the likes of Faour and Adarabioyo were also conspicuous in their absence. Grimshaw lined up in goal, Davenport stepped in at left back in place of Duhaney and Charlie Oliver, Ash Kigbu and Callum Bullock completed the back four. A powerful midfield three of Sadou Diallo, Rodney Kongolo and Marcus Wood lined up behind the wingers Dilrosun and Fernandes and Buckley started the game through the middle.
The changes didn't make any notable difference in the end - the eleven picked attacked from the off and before long City broke the deadlock. It came in spectacular fashion. Isaac Buckley picked up the ball, skipped past one before he rifled a sumptuous twenty yard Yeboah-like effort into the roof of the net. Unstoppable. After Buckley then went close again and Fernandes fired a couple of efforts at Stoke's keeper, we eventually grabbed a much deserved second. Dilrosun found space down the left and whipped in a cross that Fernandes cleverly diverted in off the post. Two nil at half time and that's how it remained at the final whistle. A hugely deserved victory and It was a performance that extended the u18s impressive unbeaten start to the season. Eight games in now, and six wins and two draws with the promise of more to come. A relatively flawless start and testament to the amount of ability the club has coming through. Next weekend's trip away to Everton will prove a stern test but a team this confident will travel to merseyside rightly feeling confident.
Individually, Marcus Wood was outstanding. A real powerhouse in central midfield, he was simply everywhere as he drove forward and repeatedly won possession in midfield with a dominant captain's performance. Kongolo and Diallo were equally effective alongside him, both providing committed, industrious box to box options in a dominant midfield display. Buckley continued his impressive start to the season, scoring an absolute wonder goal and Fernandes was a real box of tricks, repeatedly tearing the left back to pieces as he cut in from the right. Dilrosun grabbed yet another assist before he was replaced by Jadon Sancho, and the u16s regular wasted no time making an impact. A hugely hyped wonder-kid, it wasn't difficult to see why he's made great strides this year at youth level. A real box of tricks and a huge handful, he ran at Stoke repeatedly as the ball stuck to his feet. With a little more luck could have had an assist too, picking out his fellow sub Tom Dele-Bashiru who only managed to fire his shot straight at an onrushing defender. Dele-Bashiru was yet again good - a confident young lad despite his youth, and he hit the post from twenty five yards after a great run from deep. Oliver and Kigbu were both solid, imposing presences at centre-back and Bullock carried on his good form of recent weeks, competently marshalling the right back role. Davenport, usually a holding midfielder, looked totally at home in the left-back role. Late sub Hardy had no real time to make an impact.
It was a good day elsewhere for the academy, the u16s running out 5-0 victors with yet another display of attacking football. Both Tom Dele-Bashiru and Jadon Sancho both actually played 45 minutes for the u16s before running across to join the u18s at half-time as subs - an odd quirk of the way the youth footballing calendars fall, admittedly, but one within the laws of the game at this level. It was a weakened u16s team too, with some apparently away on international duty, yet there was still a hatful of goals, with two for Luke Bolton and one apiece for Foden and Brahim, a player still awaiting his international clearance so he can join up with the EDS and u18s regularly. The final came courtesy of one of the two Columbian trialists City had involved. Further good news was made as Evans and Barker made the bench for the first team. Neither found any minutes to add to the game time afforded to Garcia and Evans in midweek, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless. Next up for many involved today is the Uefa Youth League on Wednesday as City travel to Borussia Monchengladbach.