U23s Beat Coventry to Stay Top
Monday, 24th Sep 2018 20:56
Ben Folami scored twice and Jordan Roberts and Jack Lankester once each as Town’s U23s beat Coventry 4-1 at Portman Road to retain top spot in the Professional Development League Two South table.
The Blues started brightly and in the opening minute Andre Dozzell found Ben Folami on the left from where the Australian cut in before hitting a low shot which Coventry keeper Corey Addai saved down to his left.
Town kept up the early pressure and in the sixth minute lone striker Roberts cut in from the other flank and also shot straight at the keeper when the former Crawley man really ought to have played the ball across to a team-mate.
A minute later Jack Lankester, playing wide on the right, hit a shot from distance which Addai dealt with comfortably.
Lankester went closer with a 10th minute effort which took a deflection and Addai made a fine save down to his right. Folami reached the rebound first and hit a shot on the turn which a Sky Blues defender diverted over.
And from the corner the Blues scored the goal their start deserved. Coventry failed to deal with the ball into the box and U23s skipper Chris Smith, who has returned to Town with his loan at Aldershot having been cut short, did well to work himself space to chip back across from the right and Roberts headed home.
Harry Wright, a spectator up to this point, was forced into his first action on 13 but Jodi Jones’s shot from distance gave the Town keeper no problem.
But the game continued to be played almost entirely at the other end as the quarter-hour mark passed with Myles Kenlock hitting a low shot from a tight angle on the left which Addai claimed low, before Folami struck an effort from a similar position which deflected out for a corner.
Coventry were having trouble seeing any of the ball with the young Blues passing it around slickly and at pace, although at times a little too confidently around the edge of their own penalty area.
Idris El Mizouni, in a midfield trio with Dozzell and the deeper Flynn Downes, wasn’t too far away from the game’s second goal in the 25th minute after Lankester seized on Coventry defensive hesitancy. The ball eventually found its way to the Frenchman on the edge of the box but his shot was just too high.
Town went close again in the 29th minute when Lankester broke away down the right and curled in a low ball with the outside of his left boot but Folami could only slide it wide at the far post.
Coventry almost scored an equaliser in the 35th minute after some sloppy play by Kenlock but Jordy Hiwula’s shot was deflected wide.
Three minutes later, Town went close to their second, Roberts just heading wide from a Lankester corner on the right, then Downes’s shot looped up to Folami, who nodded into Addai’s hands.
But the Australian didn’t have to wait too long to double the Blues’ lead. On 40 he was fed by Kenlock as he broke into the area and deftly took the ball past a man before shooting low past Addai.
Town were well worth their two-goal lead, however, Coventry went straight up the end and pulled a goal back via their first serious shot on goal of the evening.
Reice Allassani was forced out wide on the left by Corrie Ndaba but somehow got in a cross and Jones forced the ball home off the inside of the post.
Having been allowed to regain a foothold in the game, the Sky Blues saw most of the ball during the remainder of the half albeit without threatening again.
Town were well worth their lead at the break having dominated the first period for the most part and will be frustrated that the lead was only one goal having looked shaky defensively on the rare occasions Coventry broke forward.
The Sky Blues were the first to go close in the second half in the 57th mark, Hiwula heading against the stanchion at the far post from a cross from the right.
Town, with Roberts now wide on the left and Folami down the middle, had been far less dominant during the opening third of the second period with Coventry seeing much more of the ball, while the Blues’ backline again showed a tendency to overplay themselves into potentially dangerous situations.
The game had been a much more even affair in the second half but in the 71st minute Town restored their two-goal lead.
Folami’s shot from inside the box was blocked and the ball ran loose to Lankester breaking in from the right behind him from where the 18-year-old struck a powerful low shot past Addai.
Coventry again looked to hit straight back but Jones’s curling shot arced just wide of Wright’s right post.
On 76 Kenlock was booked for pulling back Jones midway inside the Town half and from the resultant freekick Allassani hooked over the bar.
Two minutes later Zain Westbrooke volleyed over for the visitors following a corner, then on 80 Dylan Crowe was booked for a foul.
Six minutes from time Town made it 4-1. Dozzell and El Mizouni exchanged passes to reach the edge of the box before the England U19 international somehow squeezed the ball through a crowd of players to Folami to his right and the Australian hit a low shot across Addai and into the corner of the net for his second goal of the evening.
The Blues swapped Lankester, who had more than played his part in the U23s’ fourth win of the season, for Kai Brown for the final four minutes.
Overall, Town were well worth their win having dominated a first half in which they had more than enough chances to have sealed the victory, with Coventry unable to get on top of midfield trio Downes, Dozzell and El Mizouni.
The Sky Blues were far more in it after the break but Town, watched by boss Paul Hurst and assistant Chris Doig, gradually restored their earlier dominance and Lankester and Folami took their chances clinically when they came.
Town: Wright, Crowe, Kenlock, Smith (c), Ndaba, Downes, Dozzell, Roberts, El Mizouni, Lankester (K Brown 86), Folami. Unused: Egan, Clements, Z Brown, Marshall.
Coventry: Addai, Green, Camwell, Ogogo, Davies, Williams, Jones (Bremang 85), Westbrooke, Bakayoko (Eccles 90), Hiwula (Stedman 88), Allassani. Unused: Bilson, Walters.
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