The City Under 18s team met MK Dons this lunchtime at Leckwith and I am afraid that they turned in what can only be described as a very poor performance in a scrappy game which saw them being second best for long periods to the team which prop up the table in our group. To be fair to the team and the Academy staff, you have to remember that three players qualified to play today were unavailable because they have done well enough to be considered for the first team. Adam Matthews, Aaron Wildig and Jon Meades (who was presumably in the party that traveled to Preston) could all have been playing today and so the poor fare on offer didn’t really present a fair picture as to how the Academy structure is working at the club this season.
Having got that out of the way though, it has to be said that the standard was not good today and, if there had been any justice MK Dons would have ended up winning by a couple of goals. They were slightly the better side in a drab first half which saw Reece Ottley make a couple of good saves while Luke Cummings shot just over the bar and Ibby Farah forced a fine stop by the visiting keeper as he beat out the midfield player’s shot after he had broken into the penalty area. However, MK Dons took the lead about ten minutes before the break when their number 10 (who was the best player on the pitch for me) turned James Last before firing a shot across Ottley and into the net from about twelve yards out.
Despite still looking the better team, the visitors seemed content to sit on their lead for the third quarter of the game. In truth, City never really looked like breaking them down by doing anything constructive, but it did seem to be an over cautious policy from the Dons and they paid for it with about twenty minutes left when Farah ,whose forceful forward runs were behind the few threatening moves City put together, fed Nat Jarvis about fifteen yards out – Jarvis turned well, but was unable to get a shot in as he was tightly marked by a visiting defender whose attempted clearance hit the City striker and flew into the top corner of the net for a goal he knew little about.
As it was, the equaliser spurred the Dons on to come out of their shells and City were hanging on when the otherwise impressive Ottley made a mess of a routine free kick and Alex Evans had to clear off the line and Farah then had to do the same thing from the resulting corner. Ottley was called on to make some more decent saves and a header from the visiting skipper flew just over the top with the keeper beaten and, with City offering nothing going forward in response, it became a matter of whether they could hang on for an ill deserved draw. This they managed to do without too many alarms in the closing minutes, but it was it was a performance from a group that have played well so often this season which mirrored the general downbeat mood there is around the club these days.