U23s succumb to second half strikes in Lancashire....
STOKE CITY Under 23s fell 2-0 to second place Blackburn Rovers on Monday evening at the Lancashire FA’s County Ground.
Glyn Hodges’ side were in the game throughout, but failed to create too many clear cut chances, being reduced to mainly shots from outside the area.
Julien Ngoy led the line for the Potters following his appearance on the bench for the first team at Watford last weekend and a long injury layoff.
It was a slow start between the two sides with neither side able to gain a proper foothold in the game, before Oliver Shenton lofted a diagonal ball behind the Rovers defence, allowing Thibaud Verlinden his first significant touches, beating his man and seeing his cross clip the top of the bar.
The first significant chance of the game came Rovers’ way after neat interchanging down City’s left hand side saw a low ball into the box turned wide by home front man Lewis Mansell.
The next chance also fell to Mansell as he found a yard of space on the edge of the area before blazing a strike over Daniel Gyollai’s bar.
The Potters’ first opportunity fell to Daniel Jarvis on the 42nd minute after Tre Pemberton slipped a ball between the Rovers backline, however Jarvis was tackled by Matthew Platt before he pulled the trigger.
City’s best chance of the first half came in added time at the end of the half after Tom Edwards’ whipped ball across the box caused problems for the Blackburn defenders, with the ball eventually ricocheting off Platt, forcing Andrew Fisher to pull off his first save of the match.
Shenton had the best chance of the second period for the Potters, moving the ball onto his left foot before seeing his strike from outside the area well saved by Fisher.
Blackburn then finally broke the deadlock in the 54th minute after Charlie Doyle’s first attempt struck the post. The ball was then diverted towards goal and Gyollai saw his initial save rebound to Joseph Rankin-Costello, who diverted a shot past the Hungarian goalkeeper, scoring his fifth of the season.
Charlie Doyle then doubled Rovers’ lead in the 64th minute, volleying in a cross from the left hand side, after being left unmarked by the City backline.
Rovers had the chance to further increase their advantage, after a defensive mix up. It stemmed from a miss kick from Gyollai after a fierce back pass from Scott Wara. Gyollai rectified his mistake by pulling off a double save to keep the deficit to two.
Harry Souttar was on hand to clear off the line late into the second half after a low driven shot beat the Potters ‘keeper.
Verlinden saw his only shot on target saved late into added time, which nullified any hope of late City comeback.
The Potters will have the chance to return to winning ways when they host Charlton Athletic at St. George’s Park on Friday 3rd November.
Stoke City: Gyollai, Edwards (Banks 84), Tymon, Waddington (C) (Sorensen 90+ 14), Souttar, Wara, Pemberton (Campbell 66), Shenton, Ngoy, Jarvis, Verlinden. Unused: Dzecki, Hill.