Five senior players featured in Bristol City’s Under-21’s goalless late 1-0 win with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Back-up goalkeeper Max O’Leary, Timm Klose, George Tanner, Cameron Pring and summer signing Kane Wilson all played against an Owls side that did not possess their League One stars.
Unlike last week’s fixture with Birmingham City at the High Performance Centre, there was no sign of Sol Bamba who has been on trial at the club in recent weeks.
City controlled most of the match and boasted the better of the chances and eventually broke down their rearguard in the 94th minute with Josh Low heading from Kane Wilson’s lofted free-kick.
Alex Ball’s side continued their unbeaten start to the campaign, securing their third clean sheet in the process.
Tale of the match
Tommy Backwell’s lofted free-kick was the first test for the trialist goalkeeper as he clawed away the ball aimed for a City head.
Max O’Leary was then called into action as he stretched out to deny Luke Cook the chance to score.
Sam Bell put down an early marker and caused the opposition defence problems then tested the keeper with a rasping left-footed drive inside of the box, where from the resulting corner, Timm Klose headed wide.
Omar Taylor-Clarke kept him on his toes by smacking a shot from 25-yards out in a dominant start from the visiting side.
City continued to dominate throughout the first period but a rash challenge from Blackwell on a trialist midfielder prompted a pause in the game, sparking an end to their attacking phase.
The second-half followed the theme of the first with City on top once more but Wednesday’s team grew smarter of the opposition.
As the Wednesday defence failed to clear their lines, the recently introduced Marley Rose in a one-on-one after. Rose went near again with less than 15 minutes remaining on the clock with an acrobatic shot going over the bar.
City should have broken the deadlock when the goalkeeper fumbled Sebastian Palmer-Houlden’s shot but Wilson after positioning himself well spurned the chance by shooting wide.
In the last act of the match, Wilson made amends for his miss as his troubling free-kick found the head of Low which sailed over the goalkeeper.
How did the senior players fare?
The arrival of French goalkeeper Stefan Bajic this summer prompted the question of whether O’Leary would still be a City player after the window shut. Bajic’s wrist injury has kept the Republic of Ireland shot-stopper in the West Country for the time being, but this was his first competitive outing of the season with the usual U21s goalkeeper Harvey Wiles-Richards absent.
In the Carabao Cup matches where there has been a slight rotation, Daniel Bentley has retained his spot, when an opportunity may have been afforded to O’Leary.
O’Leary didn’t have much to do but when called upon he was up for the task, in the first-half he denied Luke Cook by pushing away his tight-angled shot. He was then able to come out and block the Wednesday striker from profiting from a defensive error after Joe Low’s under-hit pass put him in danger.
City had a majority of the first-half chances but when Wednesday did attack it came down Tanner’s side. Alex Ball’s side tried to follow the first-team with his system and Tanner was deployed as a right sided centre-back.
He is still getting to grips with the role as he tries to push his way back into first-team contention. Against Wednesday, he was keen to get forward and coped with their attacking outlet.
To start off the match, Klose was put under pressure by his own teammates with dangerous back-passes when in possession which he was able to deal with.
Given there was more experience in City’s line-up, Klose’s duties mainly involved sweeping up play but also being an attacking presence for set pieces.
Wilson may have expected a more prominent role in the first-team following his summer arrival from Forest Green Rovers. Fellow summer recruit Mark Sykes has been favoured over him, whilst when he was suspended Alex Scott played in the wing-back role.
City played a similar system to the first-team with Wilson occupying an attacking wing-back role and it was down the right side where they got their joy in the first-half.
Ten minutes from time, he was left kicking himself after a golden opportunity was presented to him but he blasted his shot wide.
He atoned for his miss however by getting an assist as his free-kick found the head of captain Low for the match-winning goal.
Displacing Jay Dasilva from the starting XI is a difficult task but game time is important to the academy graduate.
Pring worked well with Dylan Kadji in the centre of the park, involving the midfield in the game. In the second-half, Pring was able to get a slight more attacking joy down his flank but there wasn’t as much to do defensively.
Bell was in the first-team picture last season but hasn’t been afforded as many opportunities this time around. For the hour that he played, the academy youngster caused a lot of problems for the Wednesday defence.
In the first-half he got a number of shots away, forcing the goalkeeper into work on multiple occasions.
Bell was taken off for Marley Rose after picking up a slight injury with a quick decision made by the City staff.
Kadji has one senior appearance to his name after scoring on his debut against Wycombe Wanderers in the Carabao Cup.
Kadji was one of the better performers in the match, showcasing his ability to control the midfield whilst also getting forward. He tested the goalkeeper with some long-range drives which is a trait to keep an eye out for.