The Imps were to play out a competitive final group game in this seasons Papa John’s Trophy stage at LNER Stadium this evening. With both sides already through to the knockout stages, it still proved to be a highly competitive encounter with both sides looking to take the spoils.
It was so close to going the way of The Imps in 90 minutes as Harry Anderson looked to have given the home side the win, however a last gasp leveller from Keyendrah Simmonds took the game to penalty kicks to decide the winner and it was The Imps who took the bonus point by winning 4-3 as Ethan Ross saved the decisive spot kick from Simmonds.
City’s youngsters missed the first opportunity of the game, a long ball forward by Callum Doyle was knocked towards Oscar Bobb, he pulled the ball back to the edge of the area to Felix Nmecha but his effort screwed wide. Up the other end Tom Hopper forced Cieran Slicker into a save, as the Imps’ number 9 connected with a Max Melbourne cross to head on target.
Keyendrah Simmonds fired a powerful drive on target which Ethan Ross saved confidently as the game was being played at quite a pace in the opening ten minutes. The visitors were playing with a real swagger, committing men forward quickly when they had possession but The Imps weren’t ruffled. Michael Appleton’s side did get the ball in the net as Hopper looked to have brushed off Sammy Robinson to lob the ball over Slicker in the visiting goal but the referee adjudged Hopper to have fouled his man in the build-up.
The Imps were starting to unsettle the away side, quickly hassling and pressing the young Manchester City side and looking to get the ball into the box towards Hopper who was certainly making his presence felt on the visiting defence. Good work from Bridcutt in midfield resulted in a pass wide to Harry Anderson whose low curling ball was cut out by Doyle but he was close to turning into his own goal at the near post.
The pace of Jaden Braaf for the visitors was a real threat down their right, whilst he has been largely well marshalled by Melbourne he continued to push forward undeterred. Simmonds went closest for Manchester City just ahead of half time but a tremendous block from TJ Eyoma just deflected the ball wide of the mark. But The Imps had the final chance, Hopper pounced on a moment of madness from the Man City ‘keeper who rushed off his line out onto his right but Hopper got there ahead of him, he pulled the ball back intelligently towards Tayo Edun but Claudio Gomes made a vital interception to spare his ‘keepers blushes as Edun was lining up the shot.
The Imps 0 Manchester City U21 0
It was the home side who started the second half very quickly, Theo Archibald hassled in midfield to win the ball back before feeding Anderson who made a typical burst down the flank before curling in a teasing cross which enticed Slicker from his line but it squeezed between the Citizen’s ‘keeper and Hopper who was so close to connecting.
Archibald fired in a cross which Anderson was inches away from turning on target as The Imps had the visitors penned in their own half for a while. However, the away side withstood the pressure and were to begin to edge themselves a little further forward and fashioned their first chance of the half but Adrian Bernabe’s effort sailed over the top.
The Imps were soon back putting the pressure on the youngsters from Manchester who were having to withstand a number of crosses being pinged into the area by the home side.
The Imps kept plugging away and good closing down by Archibald after an errant back pass by the visitors fashioned the chance for the opening goal, Archibald put sufficient pressure on Claudio Gomes who was undecided as Slicker raced off his line. The Imps number 14 nicked possession and intelligently slid the ball to his right and ANDERSON took a took before smashing the ball low and hard into the far corner.
James Jones and Anderson combined wonderfully down the right with Jones cutting the ball back for McGrandles to strike but Slicker made a terrific close range stop to keep his side in the fight for a share of the points. That save proved to be vital as the visitors were to snatch a late leveller in the final minute, Nmecha’s low drive squirted away from the clutches of Ross and Simmonds was there to force home on the line.
The Imps 1 Manchester City Under 21’s 1
The Imps won 4-3 on Penalties
29 Ethan ROSS
3 Max MELBOURNE
7 Tayo EDUN
9 Tom HOPPER
14 Theo ARCHIBALD
17 Remy HOWARTH
22 TJ EYOMA
23 Liam BRIDCUTT
24 Robbie GOTTS
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Sean ROUGHAN
31 Sam LONG
5 Adam JACKSON
8 James JONES (70’ for Hopper)
10 Jorge GRANT (62’ for Bridcutt)
18 Conor McGRANDLES (19’ for Howarth)
Booked: Bridcutt 27’, Edun 59’, Hopper 64’, McGrandles 81’, Grant 90’
GOAL: Anderson 76’
Penalties: Archibald (goal), Anderson (goal), Gotts (goal), Jones (saved), Grant (goal)
Manchester City Under 21
84 Cieran SLICKER
52 Oscar BOBB
61 Felix NMECHA
63 Keyendrah SIMMONDS
73 Jaden BRAAF
77 Sammy ROBINSON
81 Claudio GOMES
82 Adrian BERNABE
86 Callum DOYLE
90 Romeo LAVIA
96 Ben KNIGHT
58 Tom SCOTT
59 Camron GBADEBO
76 D’Margio WRIGHT-PHILLIPS
83 Timi SOBOWALE (62’ for Robinson)
88 Darko GYABI (58’ for Braaf)
92 Micah HAMILTON (76’ for Bobb)
95 KWAKU ODUROH
Goal: Simmonds 90’
Penalties: Bernabe (goal), Nmecha (goal), Lavia (goal), Gyabi (missed), Simmonds (saved)
Booked: Nmecha 87’
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Assistants: Paul Evans & Anthony Da Costa