Vontae Daley-Campbell

City’s Under-23s Kick Off PL2 Season With United Stalemate

Leicester City's Development Squad opened up their Premier League 2 Division 1 season with a 2-2 draw against Manchester United Under-23s on Sunday afternoon.

The Foxes lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for the encounter with Tawanda Maswanhise, Khanya Leshabela and Kasey McAteer supporting Jake Wakeling in attack.

The hosts enjoyed plenty of early possession in front of supporters at Leigh Sports Village, but City’s debutant shot-stopper Bradley Young was largely untroubled in the opening stages.

And it was Leicester who had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Tawanda Maswanhise was felled in the area on eight minutes. However, Jake Wakeling was unable to convert the resulting spot-kick, with Matej Kovar diving low to his right to deny the forward.

Maswanhise continued to cause problems for the United defence and forced Kovar into another save with the ‘keeper making a smart diving spot to keep out his powerful attempt.

The home side had their first effort on goal when Dylan Levitt found Shola Shoretire, who showed quick feet to work space for a shot, but could not find the target, firing wide of Young’s goal.

Back at the other end, Maswanhise used his pace to move into the box and take aim, though veteran defender Paul McShane was on hand to deflect his shot wide.

Further opportunities came as a result of Maswanhise’s direct running as the winger exchanged a one-two with Iestyn Hughes before firing wide of the far post, while Wakeling’s shot was turned behind by Kovar.

D’Mani Mellor was a threat for the home side, meanwhile, shifting his way into the box and finding Young equal to his shot, tipping it behind.

But it would be Leicester who broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark courtesy of a neat through ball from Sammy Braybrooke to feed Wakeling, whose smart left-footed finish found the far corner.

Wakeling was through again soon after, following a strong run from McAteer, but this time Bjorn Hardley was able to slide in and block his goal-bound shot.

Maswanhise would also create another opportunity ahead of the interval, making a darting run through the middle before firing an effort towards goal, but Kovar was able to parry the ball behind.

United could have levelled things up shortly before the interval when D’Mani Mellor capitalised on a defensive error from the Foxes, who had Young to thank for coming out and smothering the forward’s attempt.

It was a cagey opening to the second half, though Maswanhise did manage to get a shot away early on, which was blocked by Hardley.

The home side were looking for a route back into the game and Omari Forson almost found a way through, cutting inside and trying his luck from the edge of the box, though Young comfortably dealt with his left-footed attempt.  

And Young was called into action once more when Shoretire wriggled his way into a shooting position and looked certain to score until City’s ’keeper got a strong hand to the ball, pushing it wide of the post.

Then, with just over 20 minutes to play, Leicester struck for the second time. Vontae Daley-Campbell played the ball into McAteer, who took a touch before firing into the far corner, and at that point, looked to have put the game beyond United.

McAteer started to get a lot more joy down the right and when Sammy Braybrooke shifted the ball out to him on the wing, Kovar had to be alert to palm his latest effort away, before also denying Wakeling.

A momentary lapse in concentration from City’s backline then allowed Charlie McNeill to race through down the left, but he failed to hit the target, though there were warning signs as United ramped up the pressure.

They were soon handed a lifeline on 83 minutes when Charlie Wellens’ cross was headed home by D’Mani Mellor, setting up a grandstand finish at Leigh Sports Village.

And the equaliser would come in the final minute of normal time when substitute McNeill managed to squeeze his shot past Young and rescue a draw for the Red Devils.

McNeill could have even won the game for United at the death but dragged his shot wide, as both sides had to settle for a point.

Major moment…

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Leicester City's Development Squad
Leicester City's Development Squad

The Foxes went ahead in the North West but were unable to hold out for victory.

Although United were able to find two late goals, Kasey McAteer’s strike proved crucial for the Foxes to come away from Leigh Sports Village with a point and something to show for their efforts, having enough power to beat Matej Kovar and fire the away side into a two-goal lead midway through the second half. The only disappointment will be that it did not turn out to be the winner.

Who impressed?

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Jake Wakeling
Jake Wakeling

Jake Wakeling's penalty was saved by Matej Kovar and Leicester's shot-stopper Brad Young also impressed on Sunday afternoon.

It was an accomplished debut between the sticks from Brad Young who commanded his area and was composed in possession when required to use his feet and distribute the ball to start attacks. He will take confidence from several key saves against a United side packed with attacking quality.

Where does it leave us?

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Callum Hulme
Callum Hulme

Callum Hulme started in central midfield for the Foxes, alongside Sammy Braybrooke.

Leicester City are top of the Premier League 2 Division 1 standings after matchday one, alongside Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City, who also have one point from their first fixture of the season. The remaining 10 teams are yet to kick off their campaign.

Coming up…

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Khanya Leshabela
Khanya Leshabela

Khanya Leshabela battles for the ball during the first half at Leigh Sports Village.

The Development Squad host Derby County Under-23s at King Power Stadium on Monday 23 August (7pm BST kick-off) for their first home game of the Premier League 2 season.

The details…

City: Young; Daley-Campbell (c), Brunt, R. Nelson, Hughes (Alves 71); Hulme, Braybrooke; Leshabela (Ewing 76); McAteer, Maswanhise (T. Pennant 83); Wakeling.

Subs not used: Odunze, Fitzhugh.

Goals: Wakeling 31’, McAteer 68’.

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