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City EDS downed by FC Nurnberg double

Two second half strikes condemned City EDS to a second narrow defeat away to German opposition.

James Hardy opened the scoring for the Blues within the first half hour, but FC Nurnberg replied twice and City were unable to find an equaliser despite a flurry of late chances.

Two days’ ago, Patrick Vieira’s men began a busy week on German soil with a tough clash against a Bayern Munich under-23 side, and were unfortunate to record a 2-1 defeat.

On that occasion, Jordi Hiwula tucked home his fourth goal in two pre-season games, but the hosts were quick to level the scores and then carve out a late winner to leave City disappointed after turning in a very positive performance.

With only 48 hours between the final whistle against Bayern and the kick off against Nurnberg, coupled with the aim of giving a healthy amount of match action to as many players as possible, Vieira made full use of his squad and there were 10 changes from the side that started last time out.

Only Ashley Smith-Brown retained his place in the XI, with Mathias Bossaerts, Sam Tattum and Tosin Adarabioyo joining him in the back line. Billy O’Brien replaced Angus Gunn between the sticks while Thierry Ambrose was given the task of leading from the front in place of the lively Hiwula.

Meanwhile, Jose Angel Pozo earned his first start since suffering a bad ankle injury that ruled him out for nearly the whole of last term.

The first 45 minutes produced a tight, tactical encounter as both sides vied for dominance but created few chances to break the deadlock. City impressed particularly when they didn’t have the ball, retaining a good shape and pressing high up the pitch to cause their opponents problems.

They were rewarded after just less than 30 minutes – the ball was recovered on the half way line, and Pozo marked his comeback with a perfectly placed pass to Hardy, who comfortably rounded the goalkeeper and stroked the ball into an empty net.

German sides begin their pre-season preparations several weeks in advance of their UK counterparts, and that advantage began to bear fruit in the second period.

Nurnberg were quicker out of the blocks after the half time break, and converted possession into a goal after only seven minutes, Christopher Thiesen netting the equaliser from the spot after Smith-Brown conceded a penalty.

Things got worse for City shortly before the hour mark, when makeshift centre back George Evans was left exposed, and Ivan Knezevic poked the ball home from close range after a wicked cross from the right hand side.

City refused to panic and didn’t compromise on playing style as they went in search of an equaliser.

The introduction of Brandon Barker and Angelino introduced a new attacking threat from the left hand side as the two reprised the encouraging connection they showed against Bayern Munich, and the young Blues had much the better of the chances as the half progressed.

Bossaerts saw his header smack against the post from a corner, while Ambrose fired just wide from another set piece as Nurnberg struggled to contain City’s movement.

City sensed the opportunity for a late goal of their own, and Jack Byrne had a great chance to level the scores in the 90th minute but saw his shot agonisingly clawed away by the opposition goalkeeper.

In the end, it was not to be, but another good work out with plenty of positives as the EDS prepare for the new season, and Vieira will be pleased with the signs of progress in his young squad.

Next up is a meeting with Czech side Slovan Liberec on Friday.

CITY: O’Brien, Smith-Brown (Angelino 75), Tattum, Bossaerts, Adarabioyo (Byrne 55), Evans, Horsfield, Hardy, Ntcham (Barker 68), Pozo, Ambrose.

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