EDS & Academy

Mendy returns in EDS derby draw

BACK: Benjamin Mendy in action for the EDS.
Premier League U18 Cup
Premier League U18 Cup
Thu 14 Mar
Benjamin Mendy returned from a seven-month injury lay off as Manchester City EDS played out a 1-1 with Manchester United.

The Frenchman, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in September, looked strong as he played the opening 45 minutes for Simon Davies’ side, who saw an early Lorenzo Gonzalez strike cancelled out by Indy Boonen’s header.

While derby games can often fail to deliver on pre-match anticipation, that was certainly not the case at the Academy Stadium, with a mixture of fine goalkeeping and wastefulness preventing either side from snatching the three points.

What happened

Gonzalez got City off to the best possible start as he fired home from close range to give the Blues a fourth minute lead.

Luke Bolton, whose pace on the flank caused yet another defence problems, was the architect, steaking clear of United skipper Joe Riley and delivering an inviting cross from which Gonzalez duly obliged.

Despite their tender years, it was clear Davies’ side were not affected by the occasion, playing with a calmness and maturity in a half they dominated.

A couple of forays forward showed Mendy has lost none of the attacking verve that makes him as dangerous as a winger and he almost claimed an assist when Gonzalez, who was a real threat in the opening 45, latched onto his through ball.

The Swiss youngster had done the hard part in getting clear of the chasing defender, but his tame effort was comfortable for Kieran O’Hara in the United goal.

That would have provided a deserved two goal cushion, as would Bolton's curling effort from the edge of the area, in a half in which United rarely threatened.

Ethan Hamilton sent a low effort wide and it transpired that Daniel Grimshaw’s first real action of note was picking the ball out of his own net as the Reds’ levelled on the stroke of half-time, when the unmarked Boonen headed home from Callum Gribbin's left-wing free-kick.

It was frustrating for City, who withdrew Mendy at the break after a positive 45 minutes.

Whereas the first half was a one-sided affair, the second period proved a much more even and entertaining contest in which both sides could have claimed all three points.

Tahith Chong's trickery and physicality on United’s left wing provided an enthralling battle with Demeaco Duhaney, while substitute Ian Poveda continued his fine form with another effective performance.

But it was Gonzalez who went closest to scoring a winner.

Racing onto Bolton’s pass, the striker poked at goal but under pressure from Ro-Shaun Williams and the on-rushing O’Hara, the chance crept past the post before United came into the ascendancy.

Grimshaw had already been called into action by Chong before the young keeper produced an outstanding save to deny Boonen and then lady luck was on his side as Zachary Dearnley beat him, only to see his effort go the wrong of the right post.

It all happened in an eye-catching 10 minute period on the hour mark, but City responded and the dancing feet of Poveda conjured up a fierce 20-yard drive that was beaten away by O’Hara.

From there, as is so often the case in the tense environment of a derby, both teams tightened up defensively, with few risks taken and consequently there were fewew chances.

Bolton’s cut-back failed to find any of his team-mates as tired legs prevented anyone getting up in support, before a final flurry from Poveda produced another sweetly struck shot, but it was from an acute angle and O’Hara again denied him to ensure both sides settled for a point.

How we lined up

Davies made seven changes to the team that lost to West Ham, with Benjamin Mendy coming in for his first appearance since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in September.

Grimshaw was in goal, behind a back four of Duhaney, Joel Latibeaudiere, Ed Francis and Mendy.

Iker Pozo adopted a defensive midfield role, with Matt Smith and Marcus Wood just ahead of him.

Tom Dele-Bashiru and Bolton operated on the flanks, either side of Gonzalez.

What it means

We remain in eighth position in the Premier League 2, having lost only twice in the league since the turn of the year.

With one game remaining, if results elsewhere went our way, we could finish climb to sixth with a win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Up next

Our Premier League 2 season draws to a close with a trip to North London to face Spurs on Wednesday 2 May.

Many of this squad will also be involved in our UEFA Youth League semi-final, with our U19s heading out to Switzerland to face Barcelona on Friday 20 April at the Colovray Stadium in Nyon.

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