City’s under-19s were victorious in their final outing before Christmas on Wednesday, as they defeated Crewe Alexandra 3-2 in the EFL Youth Alliance North East Division.
Neil Redfearn’s side showed excellent attacking prowess at Woodhouse Grove, as another two goals from Harry Ibbitson and a calm finish from Lewis Boney proved enough to secure all three points.
Crewe’s backline weathered constant pressure in the opening 10 minutes. City almost claimed an early advantage when a long ball from goalkeeper Zac Hadi was misread by the opposition defence. Ibbitson snuck in behind, however his lob from outside the area dipped narrowly over the bar.
Despite City’s dominance, it was the visitors who struck first. A low ball into the area from a counter attack was tapped past Hadi just 13 minutes in, as the hosts fell behind.
The young Bantams continued pushing for an equaliser in the first 45 and came closest when Gabe Wadsworth’s low drive from 18 yards out whistled just past the post.
As the run of play suggested, it would be City who grabbed the next goal. In peculiar fashion, an attempted clearance from the Crewe goalkeeper smacked against Harry Ibbitson from point-blank range. It trickled into the goal, restoring parity in the game.
City’s momentum was restored and five minutes before half-time they took the lead for the first time in the game.
A free-kick from the left-hand side was swung in perfectly to meet the head of Ibbitson. The man in fine form glanced his header into the bottom corner to turn the game around and give the advantage to City with his 18th goal of the season.
The Bantams came out for the second half with similar vigour. Moments before the hour mark, Gabe Wadsworth had a second long-range effort well saved. As he moved inside off the left, his powerful shot required Crewe’s goalkeeper to be at full stretch to prevent City adding another.
Redfearn’s youngsters came close again with their next flurry forward. A lovely passing move in the centre of the park met the feet of Ibbitson who drove forward with the ball. He slid it into Lewis Boney, who was darting into the area, but he saw his strike bend inches wide of the right-hand post.
The game was being dominated by City at this point, and they took a deserved 3-1 lead when Boney did then get himself on the scoresheet 65 minutes in.
Ibbitson began charging down the right wing and had the awareness to pick out Boney’s run through the centre. One on one with the ‘keeper, he made no mistake placing it into the back of the net.
As the game progressed, the encounter opened up more and, after multiple Crewe corners, they clawed the score back to a one-goal deficit. A looping ball into the box deceived centre-back Leon Brookes, who headed past his own goalkeeper.
Yet, City remained strong in the final stages and held onto their merited victory.
CITY: Zac Hadi, Max Murray, Lewis Boney, Fin Gledhill, George Goodman, Leon Brooks, Franklin Denison, Harry Ibbitson, Eni Rotimi, Gabe Wadsworth (c) (Zante Rose-Campbell 61’), Bilal Hussain (Mohamed Mahmoud 81’). SUBS NOT USED: George Lord, James Edgley.