EDS & Academy

West Brom 4-4 City

Brandon Barker v West Brom MF3B9895
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Sat 17 Aug
City u18s served up an eight goal thriller for the opening game of the season, coming back from 4-1 down to grab an equaliser against West Brom with virtually the last kick of the match.

The result certainly looked in doubt when Jack Byrne was shown a red card with 20 minutes to go, but the Blues’ ten men staged a magnificent fightback to earn a point in dramatic style in the Midlands.

For his first competitive game in charge, Jason Wilcox handed starts to four of his new first year scholars, with Jose Angel Tasende, Brandon Barker, Denzeil Boadu and Kean Bryan all named in the XI.

Sam Jones, Jorge Intima and James Hardy were on hand to lend some experience to the line-up, while Ashley Smith Brown captained the side from right back.

It was weather better suited to October than August which welcomed the Blues to the West Brom training ground for this first league fixture of the new campaign, played out against a backdrop of grey skies and a chilly wind.

Under the watchful gaze of NYCFC Director of Football, Claudio Reyna, it was City who were first to add a spark to the dull surroundings, when Hardy forced the Albion keeper into a low save with less than 30 seconds on the clock.

Claudio Reynar v West Brom MF3B0021

The hosts were determined to learn from the early warning, and had the ball in the back of the net just five minutes later. With goalkeeper Billy O’Brien scrambling, the shot ricocheted back off the crossbar and the ball was fired straight back into the box for the Baggies to make no mistake with the rebound.

A sumptuous free kick from Spanish left back Tasende which cannoned onto the upright and an impressive save from O’Brien when one on one with the striker were the highlights of a first half that delivered few clear cut chances for either side, until Adarabioyo nodded City level from a corner.

Although the Blues exerted some good pressure before the interval, it was the home side that came out firing after the break to score two goals in seven minutes. When substitute Jack Byrne was sent off with 20 minutes remaining and West Brom added a fourth just two minutes later, the challenge became tougher.

James Hardy v West Brom MF3B9405

But the spirit, determination and never-say-die attitude demonstrated in the game’s closing stages does the academy great credit, as the ten men, led superbly by sub James Horsfield in the centre, refused to give up.

It was Barker who grabbed the first goal back from close range to give City fans a frisson of hope, and the next arrived six minutes from time through striker Daniel Lema, who benefitted from the blossoming partnership of Smith Brown and Intima down City’s right side.

After impressing in pre-season, Intima turned in another great performance on the right wing throughout the 90 minutes, consistently getting the better of his opposite number. 

Jorge Intima v West Brom MF3B9933

The boy Blues peppered the Albion goal with chances as they desperately sought that all-important equaliser. Lema saw a header saved while the keeper fell to the ground to gratefully clutch Barker’s low shot to his chest.

City bodies packed the West Brom penalty area and finally, in the game’s dying moments, the ball fell to Lema who seized his moment and gleefully fired home for the most dramatic and delicious of finishes.

U18s v West Brom celebration MF3B9682

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