James McAtee: Remember the Name – Week in the Academy 1
Manchester City’s EDS and Academy sides returned to action this week and began their respective title defences under new management. Brian Barry-Murphy has joined the club to take charge of the EDS side after his spell as Rochdale manager came to an end, while Ben Wilkinson has stepped up to take over from Carlos Vicens as the new head coach of the Under-18s.
The U18s kicked things off in the mini-derby against Manchester United last Saturday morning, coming away with the 3 points thanks to a trio of goals from Luca Barrington, Rico Lewis and Joel Ndala.
24 hours later, the EDS were action, to face Liverpool away from home. Unfortunately, they couldn’t begin the campaign with a win as the 90 minutes resulted in a stalemate between the two sides.
Friday evening saw the EDS side try and continue their 15-match unbeaten run at home in the Premier League 2 and also claim their first victory of the Brian Barry-Murphy reign. The opponents were a strong Blackburn Rovers side who had proved to be a difficult side for City last season taking 4 points off them. James McAtee stole the show with an impressive hat-trick during the 4-2 win for the blues.
Liverpool U23 0-0 Manchester City EDS
Unfortunately, due to new Premier League streaming regulations, PL2 games that clash with matches shown live on BT and Sky will not be permitted to be live-streamed. Due to this, the nil-all draw with Liverpool last week was only available via short highlights.
Chances were aplenty for the young City side as Samuel Edozie, fresh off an impressive pre-season with the first team, came close to opening the scoring in the first half after a Luke Bolton ball flashed across the face of goal, but he could only manage to find the side netting. Cole Palmer had shots set up for him by James McAtee and Oscar Bobb but some smart saves by the Liverpool goalkeeper prevented him from finding the net on both occasions.
The best chance of the game though fell to Luke Bolton late on in the game. Edozie cut back onto his stronger foot and hooked a ball onto the head of Palmer, whose effort was superbly clawed off the line and the rebound from Bolton went wide of the largely abandoned goal.
Despite City’s evident dominance, they struggled to find the goal that would give them the 3 points.
Manchester City EDS 4-2 Blackburn Rovers U23
Returning to the Academy Stadium, and also returning to City+, the U23s ran out 4-2 winners against Blackburn thanks to a hat-trick from James McAtee and a late goal scored by Romeo Lavia from a rebounded penalty.
The opening stages were relatively cagey, City dominated possession but failed to make good use of it in the final third. Wilson-Esbrand, a young left-back who was starting his first game in nearly 11 months after a knee injury, along with winger Oscar Bobb, were the two brightest players early on in the game, creating opportunities for both McAtee and Sodje to get shots off.
Just before halftime, Micah Hamilton came closest to scoring after McAtee played a perfectly weighted through ball into him on the left wing but his shot was stopped at the near post by Stergiakis.
The resumption of the second half saw the returning Luke Mbete take the place of Joshua Wilson-Esbrand. It was a nervy start for Mbete as his first action of the game was to try and deal with a dodgy header from Egan Riley. Mbete got his feet mixed up and allowed the Rovers striker to get a shot off which rolled wide.
Shortly after, goalkeeper Miki Van Sas was called into action when Blackburn neatly worked the ball to McBride who’s shot was heading for the top corner before being pushed away. On 53 minutes the deadlock was finally broken. McAtee made an intelligent run in between the centre half’s which was spotted by Egan Riley who chipped the ball into his path and the finish from the Salford born midfielder crept through the keeper's legs.
As we reached the hour mark, Tai Sodje had the chance of the game. Luke Bolton played a cross right into his path and from two yards out Sodje’s effort struck the Rovers goalkeeper in the face and somehow didn’t end up in the back of the net.
In typical City fashion, the next few minutes allowed Blackburn right back into the game. A free-kick given away by Finely Burns was drilled to the back post and headed in by 16-year-old Ash Phillips. 3 minutes later City found themselves behind. A cleared set-piece made its way to the Blackburn fullback Pike who’s 35-yard screamer left Van Sas stranded in the centre of his goal.
City piled on the pressure to try and keep their unbeaten run intact, the introduction of Larios and Robinson off the bench sparked more width in their play.
With 10 minutes left to go Romeo Lavia’s deflected effort was tipped onto the post by Stergiakis. From here City kicked on. A free-kick won by Hamilton was cooly dispatched into the bottom corner by McAtee. The away side started to panic, and good passing by Bobb and Larios meant City attacked the Blackburn box.
McAtee, now being dubbed “The Salford Silva” and chasing his hat-trick, made a move into the box. Oscar Bobb picked him out and his shot rolled under the opposing goalkeeper. Bobb had been one of the most impressive performers on the night, and McAtee’s lovely through ball played him through on goal. Bobb used his quick feet and body feints to draw a foul from Gent inside the penalty area, who was subsequently red-carded. Romeo Lavia stepped up to take the spot-kick, his effort was saved by Stergiakis, but he followed the rebound in and scored with a headed effort.
The full-time whistle went and Murphy’s young blues started their home campaign with a well-fought 4-2 victory.
Manchester City U18 3-0 Manchester United U18
The U18s began their title defence with a convincing 3-0 win over local rivals, Manchester United.
City got off to a very strong start, straight from the kick-off a long ball played forward saw Dire Mebude through on goal but his near post effort was stopped by the keeper's legs.
Both teams had some chances from set-pieces but the game stayed 0-0 until the 32nd minute. City began passing the ball out from the back and eventually worked it out to Nico O’Reilly on the right. His innovative backheel played Mebude down the wing who held it up and returned the ball into O’Reilly’s path. A brilliant team move was finished by Luca Barrington as he dispatched O’Reilly’s cross.
Minutes later, Rico Lewis pressed high on a United goal-kick and won back the ball. He drove at the defence and after a few step-overs, shifted the ball onto his right foot and the captaining right backfired in at the near post.
United created some chances of their own and Josh McNamara pulled off a marvellous one on one save just before halftime.
The second half chances all fell to City and the game was finished off when substitute Joel Ndala followed in after Dire Mebude had his shot blocked.
A comprehensive win for Manchester City and the first for Ben Wilkinson is further proof that Manchester is indeed blue!
Everton U18 1-1 Manchester City U18
6 days later and the 18s were back in action, this time away to Finch Farm to face Everton.
The Blues started well with Dire Mebude and Nico O’Reilly getting shots at goal but the game remained scoreless as we approached the end of the first quarter.
27 minutes in, a long ball played forward was met first by Mebude and he was bundled down in the area. Rico Lewis stepped up to take the spot-kick and he stroked it home from 12 yards. The fullback added another goal to his tally after scoring last week against Manchester United.
Just before halftime, Everton came close to scoring after a headed corner was cleared off the line by Lewis.
City had some chances to add to their lead in the second half but couldn’t capitalise.
Everton began to try and get themselves back into the game and did exactly that in the 76th minute. They won the ball high up the field and pulled it back to Martin Sherif who slotted in.
Everton nearly took the lead right at the death when a looping cross was aimed towards goal but McNamara spread himself big to block the shot before Smith cleared it off the line.
The full-time whistle went and the match finished 1-1. 4 points from a possible 6 up for grabs for the U18 is certainly not a bad start to their title defence.
On Friday afternoon it was announced that Liam Delap has put pen to paper on a new contract with City, which will be in date until 2026. It is yet to be known where Delap will play his football this season, but as reported by Simon Bajkowski of Manchester Evening News, lots of clubs are interested in taking him on loan, while City are also happy to keep him around.
City have been drawn against Everton, Derby County and Stoke City in the U17 PL Cup.
Ben Knight has joined Crewe Alexandra on a season-long loan. He will wear the number 10 for Crewe and we wish him the best of luck.
Written by: @TJ9320
Follow @cityreport_ for live coverage