Sunday 16 February 2014
Patrick Vieira's Manchester City made it 12 wins in succession in all competitions as they climbed to second place in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League with victory over Stoke City at Hyde FC.
On a pitch sodden by the weather and with high winds, play was difficult for both sides, and it was who Stoke had the first chance to take the lead in the first half when Ian Lawlor fouled James Alabi in the area. However, the Man City goalkeeper made amends for his foul by saving Alabi's penalty kick.
With the win behind their backs City went on the offensive in the second half and won their own penalty on the hour when Devante Cole was fouled by Alex Grant, but they also passed up the opportunity. Captain Marcos Lopes sent his shot wide of the goal.
Ten minutes later the hosts' task became more difficult when Greg Leigh was shown a straight red card after an altercation with Grant. However, Vieira’s charges produced the decisive goal five minutes later, when Lopes robbed the ball off the last Stoke defender to set up Cole for his third goal in as many matches.
The three points puts Man City on 28 points after 14 matches, three points behind leaders Fulham. Stoke are 10th.
A long-range strike from Danny Whitehead allowed West Ham United to beat Southampton at Rush Green in difficult conditions.
The midfielder scored the only goal after 52 minutes to earn West Ham their first win of the year.
Steve Potts, the West Ham coach who was standing in while Nick Haycock was with the first team training in Dubai, felt his side deserved the victory.
"Overall I was very happy with them – we mixed the game up fairly well second half"
"The ball didn't fall kindly enough for us in the box," said Potts. "Had it have done then we might have got another goal or two but overall I was very happy with them. We mixed the game up fairly well second half.
"We played it short when we had to and we also looked a threat behind which was important because we said at half-time that any balls down the sides were going to hold up more for us in the second half.
"We created good opportunities but it didn't quite fall for us. There were one or two scrambles where I don't know how it didn't end up in the back of the net but luckily we kept a clean sheet and one was enough."
Both teams featured a number of players who had stepped up from the Under-18s.
Southampton coach Martin Hunter was disappointed that his side conceded while playing with the wind in the second half and lamented their defensive display.
"We were very erratic, particularly in our defending in the second half," he said. "We won't be using the conditions as an excuse."
The win lifted West Ham to fifth, while Southampton are eighth.
Chelsea's match with Liverpool at their Cobham Training Ground was postponed.
There are four Barclays Under-21 matches taking place on Monday, two of which are being staged at main stadiums. Aston Villa welcome Blackburn Rovers to Villa Park, while the Madejski Stadium will open its doors for the visit of Arsenal.
Friday 14 February
Chelsea P-P Liverpool
Manchester City (Cole) 1-0 Stoke City
West Ham United (Whitehead) 1-0 Southampton
Kick-offs 7pm GMT unless stated
Monday 17 February
Tottenham Hotspur v Bolton Wanderers, 12pm, Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland, 12pm, Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground
Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers, Villa Park
Fulham v Leicester City, Motspur Park
Reading v Arsenal, Madejski Stadium