Zach Booth

Away Draw For City's Under-21s In PL2

Leicester City's Development Squad earned a point on the road against Crystal Palace Under-21s as they left Selhurst Park with a goalless draw on Friday night.

Five changes were made to the XI beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers in Premier League 2 Division 1 four days earlier, with Chituru Odunze, Iestyn Hughes, Ronnie Nelson, Brandon Cover and Chris Popov all coming into the side.

Arlo Doherty, Tom Wilson-Brown, Henry Cartwright, Tawanda Maswanhise and Shane Flynn dropped out, though the latter was named among the substitutes. 

Palace, flying high coming into the encounter, were almost carved open in the first 10 minutes, with an inch-perfect Sammy Braybrooke through ball finding Popov, who used his strength to get into a shooting position only to see his effort deflect narrowly wide, before Lewis Brunt headed the resulting Braybrooke corner off target.

City continued to stay on the front foot and when Kasey McAteer made a strong run down the left, he had the composure to pick out Popov. The forward struck for goal and found Omotayo Adaramola in the way, though appeals for handball and a penalty were waved away. 

Popov came close again from a free-kick positioned 20 yards from goal, curling the ball the wrong side of the upright.  

The hosts, meanwhile, had to wait until 10 minutes before the break for their first meaningful effort - captain Jack Wells-Morrison's free-kick was headed back across goal by Kofi Balmer for Sean Grehan, who diverted the ball narrowly over. 

A quick set play then set David Omilabu away down the left and his strike, hit with some venom, cannoned off the crossbar and out of danger. Killian Phillips soon took aim from distance, skying his effort into the stand behind the goal.

A half-time switch saw Ethan Fitzhugh introduced for Zach Booth, and the momentum seemed to be with the away side as McAteer's long-range strike deflected out for a corner, from which Popov forced Owen Goodman into a diving stop.

Another Braybrooke corner was diverted over by Nelson as opportunities continued to fall Leicester's way, without the finishing touch. That was the case again when Will Alves sliced a strike wide, too.

Flynn's introduction, for the injured McAteer, gave City more of a defensive feel, but Kian Pennant, on for Popov, added extra pace. 

It was the home side who started to press for the all important first goal as the half wore on, though, as John Kymani Gordon's shot deflected wide, before Grehan might have done better with a free header he diverted off target. 

A marauding run from Cover looked to have sparked an opening for City at the other end, as the midfielder won possession high up, evaded two defenders, but was thwarted inside the area as he tried to get a shot away. 

Fitzhugh almost provided the winning moment in the last minute of normal time, weaving through two challenges and flashing a left-footed curler past the far post, not long before Cover also tried to bend one into the top corner, but directed off target in the final moments.

Major moment – An even contest

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Brandon Cover
Brandon Cover

Brandon Cover fashioned one of the game's best opportunities in the second half.

Although Palace enjoyed more possession, Leicester created the majority of the clear-cut chances, but both sides were made to settle for a goalless stalemate in the capital, ending Leicester's run of four straight defeats in all competitions.

Who impressed? – The backline stand firm

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Iestyn Hughes
Iestyn Hughes

Iestyn Hughes and Brandon Cover both came back into the side on Friday night.

Skipper Lewis Brunt, alongside his two centre-back partners Paul Appiah and Ronnie Nelson, was a big factor in keeping a second clean sheet of the season and first since August, to come away from south London with a point. 

Where do we stand? – Staying in 12th

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Zach Booth
Zach Booth

American midfielder Zach Booth on the ball during the first half at Selhurst Park.

Leicester's youngsters remain 12th in the table, on nine points from 11 games, ahead of the Premier League 2 Division 1 fixtures pausing until after the FIFA World Cup.

Coming up – Valencia (H)

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Sammy Braybrooke
Sammy Braybrooke

England youth international Sammy Braybrooke battles for possession.

City's Under-21s entertain Valencia as part of the Premier League International Cup on Wednesday evening, facing the Spanish side in a 7pm kick-off at LCFC Training Ground. 

The details...

City: Odunze; Brunt (c), Appiah, R. Nelson; Hughes, Braybrooke, Cover, McAteer (Flynn 59'); Booth (Fitzhugh 45'), Alves; Popov (K. Pennant 65'). 

Subs not used: Doherty, Godsmark-Ford.  

Photo credit: Crystal Palace FC / PPA.

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