Will Russ

PL2 Defeat For Leicester's Under-23s At West Ham

Leicester City's Development Squad fell to a 3-1 defeat against West Ham United Under-23s at Rush Green on Friday evening.

Six changes were made from the 1-1 draw with Chelsea Under-23s on 1 March, with Jake Wakeling partnering Will Russ as part of a fluid 4-4-2 system.

The Hammers, bottom of the Premier League 2 Division 1 table going into the game, were looking to bridge the gap to Leicester and included first team experience in their XI, including Arthur Masuaku and Andriy Yarmolenko.

City enjoyed plenty of early possession and created the first real chance when Shane Flynn won possession on the halfway line, striding forward before feeding Tyrese Shade, who cut inside onto his right and fired a low effort narrowly wide of the far post.

At the other end, Jamal Baptiste found Emmanuel Longelo, who got in behind the Leicester back four and forced Jakub Stolarczyk, back in the squad after missing the last two games, into his first save of the evening.

The shot-stopper was then at full stretch to tip behind Keenan Forson's powerful drive from distance, but the Foxes were still very much a threat in attacking areas. West Ham needed to call upon Joseph Anang to claw Kasey McAteer's header off the line, before Wakeling hit the follow-up into the side netting.

City's continued neat interplay led to several chances in quick succession. Russ' fierce shot was blocked by Freddie Potts ahead of Wakeling striking wide of target, while Oliver Ewing hit the post after shifting the ball onto his left foot.

But it would be a period of West Ham pressure that led to the deadlock being broken. Stolarczyk produced a smart stop to deny Yarmolemko and Ben Nelson, another returnee, had to be in the right place to block Hammers captain Conor Coventry's effort. From the resulting corner, Frederik Alves' header cannoned off the bar and back out to Potts, who turned the ball home.

However, just two minutes later, City were level. McAteer provided the perfect response, firing an unstoppable volley into the roof of the net just before the break.

There was still time for Stolarczyk to be called into action once more, but he was equal to Longelo's strike, while Shade fired high and wide at the opposite end.

It was a bright opening to the second half from the visitors as Cole Dasilva combined with Shade and crossed for Russ, who could only flick the ball wide of goal.

Both 'keepers were called into action soon after, with Wakeling's shot taking a deflection before being scooped up by Anang, while Stolarczyk kept Ademipo Odubeko at bay.

Some more good play from the away side led to Russ seeing his latest attempt saved, but the vital next goal would go the other way.

Stolarczyk had to beat away Longelo's drive but could do nothing to keep out Forson, who found the bottom corner from the edge of the area to regain West Ham's advantage.

Leicester then failed to clear their lines and, following Odubeko's blocked shot, Coventry was able to curl the ball in off the post, doubling the hosts' lead with just over a quarter of an hour to play.

The Foxes almost produced an immediate response through Shade's snapshot, which Anang had to get down to, but the hosts were able to see out the final minutes to claim three points.

Major moment…

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Kasey McAteer
Kasey McAteer

Kasey McAteer scored his second goal in three games to equalise late in the first half.

The game was evenly poised at 1-1 but once the hosts regained the lead on the hour mark and then increased their advantage with 15 minutes to play, it gave the Foxes a mountain to climb.

Who impressed?

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Shane Flynn
Shane Flynn

Shane Flynn recently signed a new contract at the Club.

Republic of Ireland defender Shane Flynn often operates as a left-back, but playing in an unfamiliar centre-back role he performed well, organising the back line and using his pace to mop up loose balls at regular intervals. Also moving the play forward and upping the tempo when required, his set-piece delivery was equally impressive, despite the result.

Where does it leave us?

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Oliver Ewing
Oliver Ewing

Oliver Ewing battles for possession in the midfield.

Leicester remain 11th in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table, having collected 17 points from 19 games. 

Coming up…

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Iestyn Hughes
Iestyn Hughes

The young Foxes have a three-week gap until their next competitive fixture.

Tottenham Hotspur Under-23s visit LCFC Training Ground for City's next Premier League 2 fixture on Monday 12 April (7pm GMT kick-off).

The details…

City: Stolarczyk; Hughes, Nelson, Flynn, Dasilva (Abdulai 85'); McAteer (Maswanhise 66'), Ewing, Hulme, Shade (c); Wakeling, Russ (K.Pennant 81').

Subs not used: Doherty, Braybrooke.

Goal: McAteer 41'.

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