U18s Report: The Tigers 0 Sheffield Utd 2
The Under-18s slipped to a 2-0 defeat against league leaders Sheffield United at Bishop Burton College on Saturday.
Despite a spirited performance from the home side it was the Blades who ultimately proved more clinical in the final third, with goals from Tyler Smith and Jordan Hallam enough to see off the Tigers, who had lost just once in seven games in the build up.
Just one change was made from the team that dominated QPR last weekend as Billy Chadwick came in for Tyler Hamilton, who missed the game through injury.
It was the visiting side that started the brighter, knocking the ball around well in the early stages of the match and carving out the first chance of the game, falling to Keegan Burton who should have done better with a glancing header that failed to work Johnny Saltmer.
Nevertheless, City appeared more than up for the challenge and, with 16 minutes on the clock, could have gone in front as Max Sheaf played a delightful ball through the defence to Mason Wilson-Rhiney, who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper - and the crossbar too.
However, towards the half hour mark of the game, all City’s good work was unraveled as Smith was allowed to tap home a cross, unchallenged, to open the scoring.
United were clearly boosted by the opener and came close to adding a second before the break, but great defending from Stephen Akbas prevented Oliver Greaves’ header from finding the back of the net.
In the dying moments of the first half, City squandered another good chance, as Chadwick set Ahmed Salam free down the left, but with a tight angle he could only fire his shot straight into the arms of keeper Josh Perryman at the near post.
After the break it was again the league leaders who took control, and they doubled their lead within ten minutes of the restart, as Hallam found himself unmarked in the area to nod in Tom Charlesworth’s cross.
Despite their disappointment at going two goals down, the young Tigers did not let their head drop and came close to pulling one back when Salam turned the right-back inside and out before shooting, the keeper parried and unfortunately there was no-one following to finish.
Despite shots from Sheaf and Marc Kelledy and Charlie Dunkerley being introduced up front, this was the Tigers’ last real chance of the game as Sheffield’s defence stubbornly refused to be beaten.
In fact, despite possession being controlled by the home side, it was the visitors who looked the most dangerous on the attack and should have scored again through a number of chances.
Hallam went close first, then Stephen Mallon and Harvey Gilmour drove long shots over the bar, before David Parkhouse and Jo Cummings wrapped up proceedings by wasting decent opportunities.
For Richard Naylor and Richard O’Donnell’s side there were plenty of positive signs from what was a decent team performance against the best side in the league at the moment, and they will look bounce back with a win away at Huddersfield Town next weekend.