City’s Elite Development Squad’s 2023/24 EFL Trophy campaign came to an end as our youngsters suffered a 3-0 defeat at Bradford.

Brian Barry-Murphy’s side entered the tie knowing we’d have to collect three points at Valley Parade to keep our hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive.

However, despite a brave performance in harsh Yorkshire conditions, we exited the competition following a first-half hat-trick from the hosts’ Tyler Smith.


Ahead of the match, Bradford announced the visit of City would represent interim boss Kevin McDonald’s last match in caretaker charge before the Scotsman would resume his playing role at the club.

Perhaps looking to hand their temporary head coach a fitting finale, the hosts started brightly and almost broke the deadlock inside five minutes when Harry Chapman latched onto Richie Smallwood’s quickly taken free-kick before the former’s effort was smothered by George Murray-Jones.

Following the Yorkshire side’s first sight of goal, the contest was evenly matched with chances few and far between as our EDS found our way into the game with a series of crisp passes.

But McDonald’s men, with the match finely balanced, opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Smith received a well-timed pass behind our defensive line and coolly slotted home.

Undeterred from falling behind, Barry-Murphy’s youngsters immediately searched for an equaliser and almost found it when Jacob Wright whipped a ferocious effort just wide of Colin Doyle’s left post.

City enjoyed plenty of the ball afterwards, but couldn’t carve out the clear-cut chances we craved with Micah Hamilton and Kane Taylor limited to efforts from distance.

And we had Murray-Jones to thank for keeping Bradford’s advantage to just one goal when a fizzed free-kick into our box fell to the feet of Chapman whose effort was expertly thwarted by the strong arm of our keeper.

Moments later, though, Smith got the better of the 19-year-old again when he received a defence-splitting pass and fired a venomous shot into the net. 

The 24-year-old striker has been the hosts’ dependable figure in cup fixtures this season with his last goal before the clash coming in a 1-1 Carabao Cup draw at Wrexham in August.

And he completed his hat-trick on the cusp of half-time when ghosting into the far post and tapping in a curling corner.

City restarted the match seemingly unfazed by Bradford’s advantage and continued to produce our characteristically confident and aesthetically pleasing football.

This almost paid dividends after the restart when Jahmai Simpson-Pusey slid a delightful pass into the path of Hamilton whose prodded effort was well saved. 

As the match entered the final 20 minutes, the Bantams were happy to protect their lead while Barry-Murphy’s team continued to probe with plenty of possession. 

And we came agonisingly close to pulling a goal back with time running out when a drilled cross found Farid Alfa-Ruprecht whose first-time strike from an acute angle cannoned off the near post.

Despite an impressive second half display where we continued to create chances against seasoned professionals, we couldn’t spark the comeback we needed to preserve our EFL Trophy status this term.

Regardless, City’s young charges can take the learnings from this competition into the rest of the campaign.


George Murray-Jones was protected in goal by a back four of Tom Galvez, Max Alleyne, Jahmai Simpson-Pusey, Lakyle Samuel.

Jacob Wright anchored our engine room and sat behind Kane Taylor and Jayden Heskey.

And Will Dickson spearheaded our attack between Micah Hamilton and Matthew Henderson-Hall on the wings.

City XI: Murray-Jones, Galvez, Alleyne, Simpson-Pusey, Samuel, Wright (Susoho 62’), Taylor (Alfa-Ruprecht 40’), Heskey, Hamilton (C) (Adam 70’), Henderson-Hall, Dickson.

Substitutes: Carrington, Grant, Warhurst, Oboavwoduo.

Bradford XI: Doyle, Smallwood (C) (Gilliead 84’), Smith (Oduor 84’), Kelly (Taylor 84’), Chapman (Pointon 46’), Oyegoke, Tomkinson, Richards, Tulloch, Afoua, Jeffreys.

Substitutes: Lewis, Halliday, Wilson.


Unfortunately, defeat at Valley Parade means our EFL Trophy campaign comes to an end at the group stage as Bradford advance to the knockout phase.

Despite exiting the competition, it was certainly a precious experience as our youngsters competed valiantly against senior opposition across three matches.

As fourth-placed Grimsby Town have gained one point from their three games, we will finish third in Group F on two points.


City’s Under-21s’ next assignment is a trip to Arsenal in the Premier League 2 on Friday 3 November.

Kick-off at Meadow Park is scheduled for 19:00 (UK) and it’s set to be another valuable challenge for our youngsters against the Gunners who sit second in the league table.

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