U18 1-1 Manchester City
By Dan Buxton
Updated Friday, 30th April 2010
Potters pulled back in season finale
A strong City side were pegged back after taking an early lead in this encounter, which will be the last City appearance for many of the Potters Under 18's.
A firm header from Andy Nicholls opened the scoring after just ten minutes before the visitors equalised with just sixteen minutes remaining.
This final game of the season started with Stoke putting out an experienced side, with eight second years, but they could have been behidn after seven minutes when a low ball across the six yard box was missed by the incoming striker, the ball rolling all the way across for a throw in.
City were not as wasteful and took their opportunity just three minutes later when, following a dangerous run by Foster that won a corner, the flag kick was drilled in by Connor. Nicholls got free of his marker and planted a strong header past the keeper and into the net for the energetic midfielders sixth of the season.
The game saw plenty of effort and commitment but strong defence work from both sides saw many attacks come to an end in the final third. One that did end with a chance was when a dangerous cross into the Potters box was palmed away by Parton. The ball fell to the visitors winger. He steadied himself before smashing his effort harmlessly over the bar.
That miss though was nothing compared to the one seconds before half time. A deep cross was nodded back across goal to the Manchester City number 9. He was put under severe pressure from Matt Cohen but still couldn't be excused when he nodded over with an open goal gaping just three yards away.
The second half saw City create more chances and control the game for long periods. That pressure should have led to the lead being doubled shortly before the hour mark when a Tom Urwin ball over the defence was misjudged by the last defender. The ball rolled through to Vickers but he snatched at the shot and the ball flew over the bar.
Cohen, with seven goals already this season, also went close to doubling the lead when he met Connor's powerfully struck corner but his header went the wrong side of the post, missing the target by just inches.
Some great build up play by City manufactured a further opportunity with twenty minutes left. Foster received the ball wide on the left and jinked inside, gliding past two defenders, before flciking the ball into the perfectly timed run of Nicholls. The City goalscorer took the ball past a defender before unleashing a shot at goal. The effort was blocked by a brave defender but the ball spiralled up and the incoming Warwick Alexander nodded the ball over the keeper, but jiust wide of the far post.
The visitors were soon back level when, after testing Parton with a well struck shot just moments before, a slick break down their left ended with a low cross being tapped in by the Eastlands sides striker from six yards.
Both sides attempted to grab a winner in the closing stages, with Cameron Mitchell and Craig Sinclair sent on to try and help the Potters win all three points, but neither side was able to put the ball in the net and the game ended level.
Under 18(4-5-1): Parton; Hedley, McDonald, Cohen(Sinclair 80), Foster; Vickers(Mitchell 80), Connor, Stockhall, Nicholls, Urwin; Alexander
After last years record total of 40 points the Potter finish this season with 37 points from 28 games and sit 7th in the league, despite missing key players for large chunks of the season, including top scorer Louis Moult whose rise to the first team ranks ended his Under 18 campaign early in 2010.
The Potters youngsters season is now over and best wishes are extended to the players who will be leaving the club this summer at the end of their two year apprenticeship