City’s Elite Development Squad endured a frustrating night on our return to Premier League 2 action as Brian Barry-Murphy’s youngsters went down 5-1 away to Stoke City.

In what was our first game of the New Year, City’s hopes of opening 2024 in style were dashed by the hosts.

Will Smith’s first half header and a strike from Nathan Lowe early after the restart had given the Potters the crucial advantage.

Though Kane Taylor fired in a fine chip 12 minutes from time to narrow the deficit, Lowe then struck for his second and Stoke’s third.

And just to compound City’s frustration, Mahamadou Susoho was then sent off in injury time after picking up a second yellow card.

With City down to 10 men, the Potters then added two more goals in injury time, Liam McCarron adding a fourth for Stoke before Lowe completed his treble from the penalty spot.

What happened

For our first game of 2024, England’s national HQ at St George’s Park, Burton was the venue on what was a bone chilling night in Staffordshire.

Barry-Murphy’s side soon settled into our rhythm and dominated the early exchanges in terms of both possession and territory.

A positive start from the City youngsters saw Justin Oboavwoduo win the ball back from a Stoke throw-in and then fire in a left footed snap shot on eight minutes that drew a fine save out of home keeper Blondy Nna Noukeu.

LEADING MAN: Skipper Micah Hamilton drives forward
LEADING MAN: Skipper Micah Hamilton drives forward

But it was the hosts who drew first blood as they took the lead on 12 minutes with what was their first attack of the night.

Nathan Lowe was the architect, sending in an inviting left wing cross and Will Smith rose to beat the City defence to send a stooping header inside George Murray-Jones’ right hand post.

City sought to regroup and almost fashioned a timely reply on 21 minutes when Josh Adam’s prompting opened up a sliver of space for Kane Taylor who found skipper Micah Hamilton.

The left winger flashed in a low hard shot that fizzed just shy of Stoke’s left hand upright.

Barry-Murphy’s side came out seeking to make a quickfire response after the break.

Instead, it was the hosts who doubled their advantage with their second shot of the game, Lowe drilling a low 54th minute shot past Murray-Jones after latching on to a long ball.

TEE UP: Tom Galvez seeks to get City on the front foot
TEE UP: Tom Galvez seeks to get City on the front foot

City continued to press and enjoy the lion’s share of possession but Stoke proved resolute and defiant in defence.

However, we narrowed the deficit on 78 minutes thanks to a superb Kane Taylor chip after brilliant work by Oboavwoduo.

He ran at the heart of the Potters defence before feeding Taylor who then executed a superb finish from the left edge of the box.

Within a minute City were almost back on level terms when substitute Farid Alfa-Ruprecht got behind the Stoke defence only to be denied by the onrushing Nna Noukeu.

But just as City looked to be threatening to draw level, Stoke added the crucial third eight minutes from time when Lowe fired home for his second and the hosts’ third.

And a tough night was then compounded when Mahamadou Susoho was shown a second yellow card on 93 minutes before McCarron struck a fourth with Lowe then sealing his treble and Stoke’s fifth with a 96th minute penalty.

How we lined up

George Murray Jones was in goal and shielded by a back four of Lakyle Samuel, Kian Noble, Jahmai Simpson-Pusey and Tom Galvez.

Mahamadou Susoho was the holding midfielder with Josh Adam and Kane Taylor also in the engine room.

Skipper Micah Hamilton and Emilio Lawrence supplied the width down the flanks with Justin Oboavwoduo also deployed upfront.

CITY XI: Murray-Jones, Samuel, Noble (Wright 82), Simpson-Pusey, Galvez, Susoho, Adam, Taylor, Oboavwoduo, Lawrence (Alfa-Ruprecht 45), Hamilton (c)

Subs: Okeke, Grant, J Heskey

STOKE: Nna Noukeu, Sparrow, McCarron, Wilmot, Dixon, Sidibe, Campbell, Smith, Jojic, Tezgel, Lowe

Subs: Morris, Curl, Reddin, Griffiths, Kershaw

OPTIONS: Mahamadou Susoho looks for an opening
OPTIONS: Mahamadou Susoho looks for an opening

What it means

City remain at the foot of the Premier League table after slipping to our seventh defeat of the season

Our Under-21s have six points from 11 games, and lie a point behind Derby County.

What’s next

City’s EDS are back in PL2 action a fortnight today on Monday, January 29, when we face another road trip.

Next time out we travel to Merseyside to take on Everton’s Under-21s in a game that kicks-off at 19.00pm (UK).

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