Manchester City Under-21s 1 (Cole 75)
Stoke City Under-21s 0
The development squad’s unbeaten start to the year came to a cruel end on Friday evening as they fell to a truly undeserved 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
Glyn Hodges’ side wasted a number of good opportunities, including a first half penalty miss from James Alabi and were punished in the final 15 minutes when Devante Cole grabbed the game’s only goal.
The Potters were unable to capitalise on the hosts missing a spot-kick of their own in the second period as well as playing against ten men for the final quarter of the game following Greg Leigh’s dismissal.
Manchester City went into the game having won their previous 10 league games and nearly got off to the perfect start after just three minutes when Leigh’s cross was poked goalwards by Jordy Hiwula but his effort was superbly stopped by Dale Eve in the Stoke goal.
Despite the home side’s bright beginning the Potters came storming back with a superb pressing game which almost brought about the opener when Charlie Ward forced the Manchester City defence into an error before surging forward and seeing his low drive well saved by Ian Lawlor.
Eve was called into action moments later to expertly thwart Hiwula from close range before the Potters reasserted their dominance when centre back Alex Grant drove into the box and forced the ‘keeper to tip his effort over the bar.
Eddy Lecygne was next to try his luck for the away side but the French midfielder fired just off target before Stoke had a glorious opportunity to open proceedings on 36 minutes from the penalty spot.
Alabi was clipped just inside the area by Lawlow, but after dusting himself down to take the spot-kick, the powerful forward saw his effort saved low down to the keeper’s right.
The miss seemed to spark the home side into life as they peppered the Stoke penalty area with a number of dangerous crosses just before the interval but the Potters remained resolute.
After making a positive start to the second period through Karim Rossi who fired narrowly over from 20 yards, the visitors almost let Patrick Vieira’s side take the lead from 12 yards.
Alex Grant was adjudged to have brought down Cole inside the box by the referee but Marcos Lopez fired the penalty two yards wide of Eve’s upright.
The dismissal of Leigh on 67 minutes for an altercation with Grant gave Stoke a great chance to go on to win the contest, but those hopes were dashed just minutes later as a mix-up in the Potters defence allowed Cole to pounce and race through on goal before firing past a helpless Eve.
The away side tried to fashion a leveller in the time remaining but were ultimately unable to find a way past what became a resolute Manchester City defence as they lost their first game since the middle of December.
Manchester City: Lawlor, Drury, Leigh, Facey, Denayer, Glendon, Bytyqi, Fofana, Hiwula (Plummer 74), Lopes, Cole. Subs not used: O’Brien, Byrne, Ntcham, Rosa.
Stoke City: Eve, Wheeler, O’Reilly, Dawson, Grant, Watkins, Thomas, Lecygne, Alabi, Ward (Richards 89), Rossi. Subs not used: Gyollai, Heneghan, Gomez-Nieto, Taylor.