Although a second-half goal from the local team meant that Patrick Vieira’s men were beaten, there were still plenty of positives to take from the second game of pre-season.
In Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to NK Osijek, Vieira took the opportunity to look at some of the more junior members of the travelling party but this time it was a more familiar-looking EDS selection.
There was still room for first-year scholar Brandon Barker who so caught the eye in Tuesday’s encounter – elsewhere, there were starts for French duo Seko Fofana and Olivieir Ntcham alongside George Evans in the midfield three.
City began the game controlling possession against a tenacious, hard-working outfit who wouldn’t give a second to the creative talents in the Blues’ armoury.
Sinan Bytyqi, Albert Rusnak and Brandon Barker were the most advanced three but found their space restricted in the opening half-hour and struggled to force opportunities for clear shots on the Gorica goal.
At the other end, Ian Lawlor was a bystander as the local opposition opted to sit deep and attempt to launch counter-raids with long, diagonal balls wide which struggled to find their targets.
An injection of quality was needed to lift the match as a spectacle and Bytyqi and Rusnak almost provided it when they combined after 42 minutes, exchanging passes in the penalty area before the latter unleashed a powerful drive which brought the best out of the keeper at the near post.
That was as close as either team came to breaking the deadlock before the break.
Against Osijek, Vieira made 10 substitutions at half-time but on this occasion he opted to stick with the same XI for the second 45.
Gorica took the lead ten minutes into the second period after a rapid counter-attack which split City’s defence in two followed by a tidy finish which left Ian Lawlor with no chance but the Blues nearly replied instantly when Evans met a Barker cross with a firm header but the keeper once again prevailed.
Now chasing the game, Patrick looked to his bench after 60 minutes and made a triple substitution which saw George Intima, George Glendon and Alex Henshall all enter the fray.
City almost immediately equalised through Fofana, who danced through a couple of rugged challenges to get himself clear but he couldn’t provide the finish his incisive dribble deserved and fired over the crossbar.
There was another chance for an equaliser after 70 minutes Intima showed great vision to pick out Henshall who sped clear on the left but his shot just missed the target.
Henhall’s pace was causing all kinds of problems for the Croatians as the game became stretched in the last 15 but only two excellent full stretch saves from substitute keeper Angus Gunn within 60 seconds kept City in the game.
City pushed and probed and Fofana had an opportunity to draw the game level with two minutes to play but the Blues were made to rue their missed chances and Gorica held out for the win.
Vieira’s men return home on Saturday morning to continue their pre-season preparations and get ready for the Oberndorf tournament in Germany at the start of August.
Earlier in the day, Jason Wilcox clinched his first win as City under-18s boss with an impressive 6-1 win over Olimpija.
City blitzed the Slovenian side with four first half goals, opening the scoring after just one minute of play courtesy of England youth international Denzeil Boadu.
A Kean Bryan penalty doubled their advantage before a sublime Tosin Adarabioyo solo goal in which the centre-half ran the length of the field, exchanged passes with James Hardy and slotted past the keeper made it three.
It was four before half-time, thanks to a City trialist who added another to make it five after the break.
Olimpija replied to make it 5-1 before Bersant Celina restored the five-goal cushion with a stunning volley to round off a tough, enjoyable and rewarding ten days for City’s Academy.