Slick academy lads make easy work of Bolton

City's under-18s rode to a routine 3-0 victory over near-neighbours Bolton at Platt Lane yesterday. Norwegian youth international Omar Elabdellaoui grabbed two goals, midfield maestro Ahmad Benali notching the other and putting in a terrific Man of the Match display.

It was Benali who opened the scoring in the seventh minute somewhat against the run of play, rounding off a lovely move involving left-back Tom Smith and big striker Emerick Hippias. Smith burst forward and exchanged passes with 'Eric', crossing low for Ahmad to knock in with relative ease.

The lead was extended just after the half-hour, and again the goal involved some lovely touch passing. Centre-half Fredi Vaseli, who skippered Switzerland to under-17 European Championships glory earlier this season broke out of defence and another move involving Hippias and Benali was stuck away by Elabdellaoui.

Before half-time they should have had a third. Elabdellaoui was put through moments after the second goal but shot straight at the Bolton 'keeper. Hippias later turned his marker but saw his effort go wide. A bright opening five minutes aside it was a relatively routine first half's work.

Bolton did at least come into the game for a short period after the break. Their number eight lashed a shot at Wood's goal, the Welshman getting fingertips to it to stop fantastically. On the hour they should have had a penalty, Wood clearly taking out the onrushing forward but the ref being unmoved.

Sub Harry Bunn almost made it three, a roaming run infield by left-back Tom Smith seeing the ball fall to him but he couldn't finish. A cross from the right then made its way to Fredi Vaseli but his powerful volley was well saved. With only a couple of minutes left we did grab the deserved third, breaking from a Bolton free-kick and Smith forging forward once more, picking out Bunn who crossed for Elabdellaoui to grab his second and seal a comfortable victory.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable game. Bolton's occasional threats were well dealt with and like the first team the lads always looked at their most dangerous on the counter-attack. Most impressive, however, was Benali. He looks like a terrific prospect and turns possession well. From the centre of the park he ran the show and has a real eye for a pass.

It would be unfair to single too many out as it was a great team performance, and to a man they all played very well, but the left-back Smith was also outstanding - comfortable defending but always wanting to push on. Hippias, too, demonstrated a nice touch and strong work ethic and caused the opposition defence terrible trouble.

Wood, Mitchell, Smith, Vaseli, Wabara, Kapsalopodas (Grandison), Paris (Bunn), Benali, Elabdellaoui, Hippias, Olle (Robinson)

1 comment:

  1. Great insight into the Academy set-up pal,

    Did you get my email as well?