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FA PREMIER U18 ACADEMY LEAGUE
Saturday 25th August 2012
Middlesbrough 0 Manchester City 1
Fortunately I had intended to arrive early at Middlesbrough’s Rockliffe Park training ground and was unaware that the kick off had been brought forward and so arrived with the game having just kicked off a couple of minutes before. I had missed nothing as most of the action for City happened in the second half for City as Jose Pozo who had become a lone striker scored a very good solo goal indeed in the sixty seventh minute.
The first half Middlesbrough were controlling precedings as City were struggling to maintain their shape in midfield as they were becoming a little bit stretched at times and allowing Middlesbrough to work the balls out wide and then dragging the defence apart to create gaps that fortunately for City they were not exploiting.
Certainly Middlesbrough’s Jordan Jones in their midfield was seeing a lot of the ball and his energy getting forward was causing City quite a few questions that they were mainly failing to answer as he was able to get a couple of shots off but he was not able to make Ian Lawlor in the City goal as they drifted wide off the woodwork.
City had a very good chance right at the end of the first half to take an unlikely lead when Jose Pozo is brought down on the right hand side of the area. The former Real Madrid player stepped up to take responsibility from the spot but his shot to the left is read by James Montgomery to deny City the lead.
City made changes both at the start of the second half and early on to help them with their shape and with Ashley Smith-Brown able to push forward that Ellis Plummer was unable to do that forced Middlesbrough back on the flanks and created more space in midfield that Louis Hutton exploited as he threaded a lovely ball through to Pozo and he drifted off to the left before getting a cross in that Devante Cole failed to finish from and Montgomery was able to mop the ball up.
Middlesbrough were occasionally getting forward as were not too far off as the hour mark loomed close when Jordan Jones fed Bradley Fewster with his back to goal but turned well and shot first time but shot just wide.
City’s final change made a real difference as they moved to a four five one formation with James Hardy being the spare man in midfield and so with just one upfront the Middlesbrough defence were able to push up and play a higher line.
However that positioning was their undoing in the sixty seventh minute when Hutton again provide a neat pass for Pozo just inside Middlesbrough’s half and he evades a lunging challenge from Bennett that the referee played an advantage as again Pozo drifted off to the left where he held off Griffiths and then toe poked the ball into the far corner past Montgomery.
Pozo nearly double his goal tally for the match and City’s lead when the ball comes to him on the edge of the area and his shot forces Montgomery to stand up and block the ball going through him over his head.
City continued to dominate possession but with just that lone striker were not really able to force Montgomery into working further and so it was no surprise that Middlesbrough pushed up and went for the equalizer in the final minutes and Armstrong was given a guilt edged chance to do so but his effort was not good enough to beat Lawlor.
Then Middlesbrough’s best player Jordan Jones went on a surging run as he skipped past City’s midfield and defence and into the area with such authority before letting fly with a very good left foot shot that Lawlor did well to get a good hand to it and deny City two points as they went back down the A1 with all three as City face Liverpool at Platt Lane next Saturday.
Lawlor, Facey (El-Fitouri 54), Swan, Plummer (Smith-Brown 46), Leigh, Byrne, Hutton,Glendon,Cole (Hardy 62), Pozo, Barker
Subs: O'Brien(GK), Horsfield
The Under 16's in their first game of the season took the lead but ended up losing 3-1.Aaron Nemane scored for City