Man City U21s make their mark with dominant EFL Trophy win over Rochdale
As of Wednesday, the road that ‘symbolically connects’ Manchester City’s first team building with their youth and community pitches has been renamed Vincent Kompany Crescent.
If the former captain deserves every tribute going, it was an unfortunate quirk of the fixture list that kept the future of the team away from the big celebration of the past.
As stars past and present took to the Etihad to shine more light on a glittering career, City’s Under-21s were at Rochdale trying to stay in the picture. It may only be 12.5miles between the grounds but it felt significantly longer symbolically in front of a sparse crowd of 1172.
All the youngsters can do is try to do enough to catch Pep Guardiola’s eye ; here, they were as bright as the yellow-and-peach kits they wore.
Paul Harsley felt like everything came together for his players in the EFL Trophy last year and from the first moment of this campaign they were fast, fearless, and incredibly stylish.
Yeboah Amankwah and Taylor Harwood-Bellis provided a physical presence at the back and Ben Knight, Jayden Braaf and Adrian Bernabe schemed and swarmed their way through the home defence at any opportunity. The Blues had already gone close on a number of occasions in a strong opening 30 minutes when Braaf – the standout attacker – took hold of a loose ball in the box and smashed it in off the far post.
They were rewarded even further after the break when a spell of intense pressing around the Rochdale box saw the ball overturned and Nabil Touaizi touched it on for Bernabe to double the advantage just short of the hour mark.
Daniel Grimshaw may have been busier in the second period but he was never greatly troubled as the centre-backs held firm with assured displays in what was a tremendous collective performance.
Keep playing like this and it will be impossible for these players not to be noticed as they force their way closer to the first team.
CITY: Grimshaw, Diounkou, Amankwah, Harwood-Bellis (McDonald 82), Ogbeta, Pozo (Dele-Bashiru 88), Knight, Doyle, Touaizi (Fiorini 88), Bernabe, Braaf Not used: Wilson, Moulden, Garre, Rogers