Darragh O'Connor

Rare Loss For City's Under-23s At Arsenal

Leicester City's Development Squad suffered just a second defeat in 16 matches as Arsenal sealed a 3-0 success in the Premier League International Cup at Meadow Park on Friday.
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Bartosz Kapustka, Callum Wright and Darragh O'Connor came in for the Foxes following Monday's 1-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion - their 12th win in 13 outings in all competitions.

While Josh Eppiah’s effort inside 60 seconds would not have counted, as the Belgian strayed offside, a long-ranger from Folarin Balogun for Arsenal would have stood, but it flew over.

Seven minutes in, meanwhile, City captain Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall spotted Mitch Clark on the flank and the former Aston Villa full-back found Kapustka. The Polish forward, though, dragged it wide.

The visitors' first effort on target came after 17 minutes with Ali Reghba seizing on a loose ball, slotting in Eppiah, whose shot was blocked, before Callum Wright’s attempt was saved by Karl Hein.

Midway through the first period, it was the Gunners who went ahead, however, after Viktor Johansson followed an outstanding save by inadvertently bringing Nathan Tormey down in the penalty box.

Robbie Burton stepped up to take the home side’s spot-kick, which came as the visitors protested for offside in the build-up, and duly powered it past City’s Swedish ‘keeper to make it 1-0 to Arsenal.

Luke Thomas, on the other hand, made two essential interceptions inside the 18-yard area, denying Tormey on both occasions, to keep Leicester’s hosts from extending their lead.

Aside from a Kapustka free-kick, which went over the bar in the final seconds, there were few opportunities before the break as Arsenal went in holding a one-goal advantage.

At the interval, full-back Vontae Daley-Campbell, a former Gunner, came on for City, replacing Reghba, as the visitors changed to a 3-5-2 shape in Borehamwood.

Perhaps Leicester’s best opportunity up until that point came in the 49th minute as Kapustka’s curling free-kick forced Hein into a stretching save before Daley-Campbell’s follow-up crashed into the side-netting, before the linesman’s flag was raised.

A slick City break, meanwhile, involved Daley-Campbell again as he crossed for Eppiah, but the Belgian just couldn’t quite apply the final touch to get his side back into the clash.

Despite an encouraging start to the second period, it was Arsenal who struck next, though, through an excellent half-volley from Balogun on the edge of the Foxes’ penalty area.

Hein was there again to frustrate Leicester when Wright linked up well with Eppiah, setting the latter up to fire a low drive at goal, but the Gunners shot-stopper got down well on 70 minutes. 

It was then 3-0 with 14 minutes of normal time to play as Tormey located James Olayinka, who slotted it past Johansson to add a touch of gloss to the scoreline.

Substitute Terell Pennant, making the step up from Under-18s football, also tested the resolute Hein in the latter stages, but his low effort, from a tight angle, was palmed away.

Dewsbury-Hall nearly pulled a goal back for City, but dragged wide late on, while right-back Clark was shown a straight red card in injury time after bringing down last man Balogun.

Major moment

 

A moment of magic from Folarin Balogun settled an otherwise even contest in Borehamwood, widening the gap just as the Foxes appeared to be building momentum towards an equaliser.

Both Bartosz Kapustka and Josh Eppiah had worried the home side’s backline just moments before, but a two-goal deficit proved too steep a gradient for City’s youngsters to scale, before Arsenal added a third.

Who impressed?

 

England youth international Luke Thomas showed both positional awareness and bravery to make a number of vital interceptions and blocks for the Foxes throughout.

The 18-year-old left-back, on three different occasions, was in the right place at the right time to stop both Folarin Balogun and Nathan Tormey from testing Viktor Johansson.

Where does it leave us?

 

City drop down to third in Group A of the Premier League International Cup, below, but level on points with, second-placed Dinamo Zagreb, who they face later this month.

Arsenal qualify as group winners with a 100 per cent record, after playing all their matches, while the two best-placed runners-up will join them in the knockout phase.

Coming up…

 

A third successive away trip sees Leicester’s youngsters travel to Rodney Parade on Tuesday to tackle Newport County in the quarter-finals of the Leasing.com Trophy (7pm kick-off).

On Monday 27 January, European opposition visit Holmes Park in their final Premier League International Cup Group A outing against Dinamo Zagreb (7pm kick-off) – live on LCFC TV.

The details…

 

City: Johansson; Clark, O'Connor, Ughelumba, L. Thomas; Leshabela (T. Pennant 62’), Dewsbury-Hall (c); Eppiah (Shade 79'), Wright, Kapustka; Reghba (Daley-Campbell 45’)

Subs not used: Stolarczyk, Leathers, Loughlin, McAteer

All times GMT.

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