Folami and Downes on Target as U23s Fight Back to Draw With Bristol City
Monday, 9th Oct 2017 21:11
Ben Folami and Flynn Downes were on target as Town’s U23s came from two goals down at half-time to draw 2-2 at home with Bristol City, Arnie Garita and Jake Andrews having given the visitors the lead against the run of play before the break.
After a scrappy first few minutes the Blues created the first opportunity of the game on nine, Myles Kenlock whipping in a ball from the left which Conor McKendry, playing between the midfield and Ben Folami and Ben Morris up front, just failed to reach.
Two minutes later Flynn Downes won the ball on halfway and fed Kenlock, who broke forward before playing in Downes to his left but the midfielder’s shot was too close to Bristol City keeper Alhaji Sesay.
On 17 Morris worked himself space on the edge of the box before hitting a low shot wide of Sesay’s left post. A minute later right-back Callum Connolly shot well over from a tight angle after a clever interchange with Folami.
The dominant Blues almost took the lead in the 20th minute when the visitors surrendered possession midway inside their own half and McKendry played in Rowe on the right of the box. The January signing from Macclesfield hit a low shot across Sesay but the keeper did well to forced it wide of his far post.
Town had deserved to go in front but instead the Robins immediately went ahead with their first chance of the game. A deep Rory Holden cross was sent in from the left and Garita pulled away from Tommy Smith, making himself time to take the ball down and slam past Michael Crowe from eight yards.
The Blues weren’t too far away from an equaliser on 26, Folami holding off his man to win the ball and then hit a 25-yard shot which flew only just over the bar.
Two minutes later, Rowe saw what looked to be a goal-bound effort blocked, then on 31 Folami twisted and turned his way into the area but was crowded out before he could get in a shot.
The Blues kept up the pressure and in the 33rd minute, after more good work from Folami, Kenlock teed-up McKendry on the edge of the box but the Northern Irishman’s low curling shot arced just past the post.
Three minutes later Bristol City doubled their lead via their second shot of the game. Downes was penalised for a foul 20 yards out and Andrews curled the ball past Crowe to his left.
Rowe headed over from a McKendry cross as the game quickly settled back into its earlier pattern.
The Bristol City goal was living a charmed life - with keeper Sesay’s very shaky kicking putting them under further pressure - and on 38 the Blues went close again, Morris sending a low ball from the right which Sesay couldn’t hold on to but which was cleared from inside the six-yard box. A minute later, McKendry saw an effort from the edge of the box blocked.
The visitors almost managed a third goal against the run of play in the final minute of the half, Smith diving in superbly to block from Garita after Downes had given the ball away not far outside the Town area.
The scoreline was somewhat harsh on the Blues at the break, Town having been well on top. But where they had failed to take their numerous chances, Bristol City had netted two of their three.
Seven minutes after the restart the visitors should have made it 3-0 when Opanin Edwards broke into the area from the right and chipped Crowe but the ball struck the top of the bar and Shane McLoughlin, again operating in a deep central midfield role, cleared. Moments later, Holden curled a shot wide from the edge of the box.
But Town quickly put the Bristol City goal under pressure again, Morris seeing a strike blocked, then Folami worked himself space before shooting straight at Sesay.
Tyreeq Bakinson smashed a 25-yard strike which Crowe did well to palm away, then in the 57th minute the Blues finally pulled a goal back.
Kenlock found Rowe on the right with a classy cross-field ball and the winger laid it across for Folami to tap home at the far post as he broke into the six-yard box. It was the Australian’s seventh U23s goal of the season, six in the league.
The Blues went looking for the equaliser and on the hour Connolly hit a deflected shot which looped through to the keeper.
A minute later, Folami was threaded through on goal and rounded Sesay and turned the ball goalwards only for Aaron Parsons to slide in and clear off the line.
But a Town leveller wasn’t too much longer in coming. Folami cut in from the left, Morris’s volley was saved by Sesay but Downes was on hand to turn home from close range.
The Blues went looking for a winner, Rowe curled over on 67, then in the 71st minute Connolly’s header was nodded off the line from Rowe’s cross from the left.
Moments later, Edwards was booked for a foul on Kenlock, then McKendry screwed a shot well wide when he had time to pick his spot.
After Aron Baldwin had headed wide for the Robins, Monty Patterson took over from McKendry for the Blues.
On 77 Sesay tipped Smith’s looping header over, then two minutes later Folami screwed a shot very wide from the edge of the box.
As the game moved into its final five minutes, Rowe cut in from the right and hit a shot which deflected on to the roof of the net.
Morris was sent away on goal in the 87th minute and held off Bakinson but shot straight at Sesay. In the final scheduled minute Dylan Crowe replaced Rowe. Shortly before the whistle McLoughlin was booked for a foul on the breaking Edwards.
Town's U23s, watched by assistant manager Terry Connor but not boss Mick McCarthy, will feel they ought to have claimed all three points, however, having gone two goals behind will be pleased with the way they fought back to claim the draw.
Despite scoring their goals in the second half the Blues were better before the break with the visitors making the most of some lax defending for the first and a well-taken freekick for their second.
Smith and Downes both completed the 90 minutes following their spells out injured with apparently no ill effects, while Rowe, McKendry and Morris caused the Bristol City defence plenty of problems throughout along with Folami, who added to his impressive early season goal tally, however, the Blues attacking players will feel they should have scored more than their two goals.
U23s: M Crowe, Connolly, Kenlock, Downes, Woolfenden, T Smith, Rowe (D Crowe 90), McLoughlin (c), Morris, McKendry (Patterson 75), Folami. Unused: Daniels, Hayes, Marshall.
Bristol City: Sesay, Parsons, Baldwin (c) (Turner-Williams 86), Morton (Richards 65), Plavotich, Andrews, Edwards, Bakinson, Garita, Holden (Akpobire 75), Nurse. Unused: Carey.
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