Admiral Muskwe

Tranmere Success Sends City's Youngsters Into EFL Trophy Quarter-Finals

George Hirst and Admiral Muskwe struck to earn a brilliant 2-1 comeback success at Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday to seal Leicester City's Development Squad a place in the quarter-finals of the Trophy.
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There were three changes to the City line-up which defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-1 on Friday with Eldin Jakupović, Calvin Ughelumba and Khanya Leshabela coming in at Prenton Park.

The visiting Foxes, who have beaten Grimsby Town, Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers in the EFL Trophy, had also won 10 of their previous 11 fixtures in all competitions ahead of kick-off.

It was a 5-3-2 stratagem deployed by Leicester in Birkenhead with Mitchell Clark and Luke Thomas playing as wing-backs and with George Hirst and Admiral Muskwe up top.

City’s first opportunity of the clash came after 10 minutes as Ughelumba’s cross found Hirst, but the England youth international’s header was straight at shot-stopper Luke Pilling.

Muskwe, meanwhile, also had a chance to open the scoring early on after breaking free of his man, although Pilling combined with Carl Spellman to address the danger and block his shot.

Hirst was unlucky with a first-time follow midway through opening 45 minutes when Clark’s deep cross found him perfectly, but the 20-year-old’s effort flew high and wide of the target.

Just before the half-hour mark, on the other hand, Jakupović was called upon to make an excellent, fingertip save to push Stefan Payne’s hopeful curler over the crossbar.

Rovers went one step further shortly after as Harvey Gilmour’s low drive was flicked past Jakupović and into the far corner by Payne, giving the home side a one-goal advantage.

Leicester nonetheless continued to create as Hirst looped a header over the bar and Darragh O’Connor had an effort blocked before the interval on Merseyside.

The visitors were rewarded on 51 minutes, though, when Hirst, a menace for his marker all night, ran at goal and beat Pilling at his near post to score his 10th goal in 2019/20.

An excellent comeback was complete in the 72nd minute, although it came about in fortuitous circumstances as substitute Ali Reghba's shot ricocheted into Muskwe's path in the area.

The Zimbabwe international did the rest, cutting inside his man and picking his spot before rocketing a powerful shot past Pilling and into the net to go level with Hirst on 10 strikes this term. 

Major moment

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George Hirst
George Hirst

First goalscorer George Hirst celebrates getting the young Foxes back into it.

Despite going behind before the interval, the visitors would have taken solace from the quality of their performance in the first half and it didn't take long before it showed on the scoresheet.

Getting back on level terms swiftly in the second period was essential if Leicester were to continue their Trophy journey - and George Hirst's assured finish plotted the path to that feat.

Who impressed?

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George Thomas
George Thomas

Development Squad captain George Thomas prepares to take a free-kick.

While both of City's goalscorers on the night naturally deserve a mention for their efforts in Birkenhead, midfielders Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and George Thomas also impressed greatly.

The midfield duo have forged a strong partnership this campaign and it was their industry in the middle of the park which fuelled a remarkable away performance.

Where does it leave us?

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Admiral Muskwe & Khanya Leshabela
Admiral Muskwe & Khanya Leshabela

Admiral Muskwe and Khanya Leshabela unite to win the ball back.

Leicester’s youngsters go into the hat for the quarter-finals of the Trophy for the first time and the draw will take place on Thursday 9 January from 12:15pm.

Coming up…

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Darragh O'Connor
Darragh O'Connor

Irish centre-back Darragh O'Connor applies pressure in the first half.

City’s Development Squad head to Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday (7pm kick-off) before tackling Arsenal in Borehamwood on Friday (7pm kick-off).

Both fixtures can be viewed live and free on LCFC TV, 15 minutes before they get underway.

The details…

City: Jakupović; Clark, O'Connor (Reghba 45’), Johnson, Ughelumba, L. Thomas; G. Thomas (c), Dewsbury-Hall, Leshabela (Daley-Campbell 90'); Hirst, Muskwe

Subs not used: Stolarczyk, Shade, Tee, Hulme, Russ

Goal: Hirst 51', Muskwe 72'

All times GMT.

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