The Under 21 Development team ensured that there will be one last game for City fans to enjoy by beating Northern Section Winners Leicester City 3-2 at the King Power Stadium last night in the end of season play off’s to decide the winners of the first ever Development League Two title. City’s second string will now go forward to host Charlton in the Final on Saturday – it’s not been officially confirmed yet, but all of the indications are that it will be a 3 o clock kick off at Cardiff City Stadium.
Leicester’s Championship Play Off commitments meant that the opposition our Under 21’s faced may not have been as strong as it could have been, but, by the same token, our team was younger than normal with players such as Joe Mason, Simon Lappin and Steve McPhail (who it’s being reported will be leaving the club in the summer), who have all been included lately, not featuring this time and regular right back Luke Coulson was also missing through injury. There was still a decent proportion of players with Championship experience in the side mind – Ben Nugent and Etien Velikonja, who both started at Hull on Saturday, were included, while Filp Kiss was alongside captain Joe Ralls in midfield.
The sides were level at half time, with Leicester having gone into an early lead through their England Under 19 international George Taft whicxh was cancelled out by an own goal by McGinty who nodded a Declan John cross past his own keeper while being put under pressure by Velikonja. Another England youth international, the interestingly named Joe Dodoo, restored the home side’s lead in the sixty third minute, but City, finishing the stronger, seized the initiative and in the last twelve minutes, a couple of goals from an unlikely source secured them a victory which Leicester coach Steve Beaglehole admitted was a deserved one.
No doubt inspired by being nominated Under 21 Player of the Year by this blog a couple of weeks ago (I’d put a laughing smiley in here if I had one!), Deji Oshilaja became the match winning hero by, first, touching in Ralls’ corner in the seventy eighth minute and then firing in a right foot shot from about fifteen yards after working himself some space following a Rhys Healey long throw.
Deji, being used at right back in Coulson’s absence rather than in his normal centre back position, came up with his first goals of the campaign to make it ten wins in the last eleven matches for the Development team and they have finished the season like a train having made an ordinary start which saw them lose their first four away games. Momentum is certainly behind us going into the Final then, but a word of warning, Charlton hammered Huddersfield 6-1 in their Semi Final and that one defeat in our last eleven matches came at their hands as they scored four times without reply in London in February.
Charlton also looked a useful team in hitting the post three times when the sides met in Cardiff back in September, but City got the goals that night with fine second half efforts by Craig Conway and John securing a 2-0 win and with nine, high scoring, victories in ten appearances at Cardiff City Stadium up to now, our home ground is even more of a fortress for our Under 21’s than it was for our first team.
Hopefully. there’ll be a good crowd at the ground on Saturday to see if City can pick up a second trophy of the season in their last match – the team deserve a good turn out because they’ve played some entertaining stuff (I make it forty four goals scored in twenty one games) this year.
Just a quick update, the Final with Charlton will be a 3 o clock kick off on Saturday and, in a great gesture, the club have announced that there will be no entry fee for the match.
*Photo courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/