U21s Report: Leicester City 1 Middlesbrough 1
- Joe Dodoo’s fine strike cancelled out Tom McAloon’s first half effort
- The Foxes return to U21 Premier League action against Reading on Monday 8 February (2pm KO)
A superb strike from Joe Dodoo earned Leicester City’s Development Squad a Barclays U21 Premier League point against Middlesbrough at Belvoir Drive on Monday.
The Foxes went behind after 36 minutes when winger Tom McAloon opened the scoring with a neat finish past a defiant Max Smith-Varnham, who had earlier pulled off two excellent saves to keep the game level.
But City put in an inspired performance in the second half and after several clear opportunities – most notably Jacob Blyth hitting the bar – the Foxes finally capitalised on their dominance with nine minutes to play.
Dodoo picked up the ball on the left flank and drove towards goal before producing an excellent strike to beat Boro stopper Joe Fryer, ultimately earning a point for his side in turn.
The Foxes started the game well, with Dodoo flashing an effort well wide from the edge of the box with just two minutes gone, before Middlesbrough upped their attacking intent.
It was Smith-Varnham who would keep the score level early on in the first period as he did well to smother McAloon’s dangerous cross on 10 minutes, while also making his first stop of the game to deny Arnel Jakupovic with his legs.
Mark Kitching was next to be halted by the excellent Smith-Varnham, who turned the defender’s powerful effort at the near post away as the game approached the half-hour mark.
City then responded well as Harry Panayiotou twice went close. The St. Kitts and Nevis international first saw a deflected effort tipped wide by Middlesbrough ‘keeper Fryer, before having a low drive turned away by defender Alex Baptiste.
But Boro rallied and eventually took the lead on 36 minutes as McAloon latched onto a long ball and slotted past Smith-Varnham to make it 1-0.
The lively Dodoo came close to levelling matters just before half-time, but the winger saw his strike blocked, again by Baptiste, and the visitors carried their one-goal advantage into the break.
City were much improved in the second period, with Blyth going close after turning Liam Moore’s knock down over at the near post on 57 minutes.
Blyth then threatened twice in quick succession, first hammering Panayiotou’s through ball into the side-netting from a difficult angle, before nodding Dodoo’s cross onto the bar with just over 10 minutes to play.
It would take a moment of quality to break down Middlesbrough’s resilient defence and it arrived with 81 minutes on the clock as Dodoo cut in from the right and sent a powerful low effort into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.
Opportunities to earn all three points arrived for both sides late on as Blyth and substitute Admiral Muskwe went close for the Foxes, while Byrn Morris fired a volley off target from eight yards out.
City will now take a two-week pause in their U21 Premier League campaign, with a trip to Reading next up on Monday 8 February (2pm kick-off).
CITY: Smith-Varnham, Johnson (Muskwe 73), Barmby, Watson (c), E. Moore, L. Moore, Panayiotou, Cain (Miles 46), Blyth, Dodoo, Rowe (Choudhury 46)
SUBS NOT USED: Yates, Fox
GOAL: Dodoo 81
MIDDLESBROUGH: Fryer, Perez (Johnson 74), Baptiste, Burn, Kitching, Tinkler (c), Jones, Morris, Jakupovic, Cooke, McAloon (Chapman 63)
SUBS NOT USED: Elsdon, Morelli, James
GOAL: McAloon 36
REFEREE: Ben Cooke
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