While City’s first team finished their season on Saturday with a title win to celebrate and a place in next year’s top flight to look forward to,Kevin Cooper’s Development side still have plenty to play for with a semi-final Play-Off tie against Leicester City on Tuesday night. This is a one of fixture, with no second leg.
City face off against theSteve Beaglehole’s side after the junior Foxes finished the Northern section of Professional Development League Two in 1stposition, sealing top spot with a 3-0 win over Birmingham City in April. Cardiff’s impressive second half to the season saw them confirm a Play-Off spot with a 3-1 win over Barnet in April; they missed out on top spot on goal difference only.
Leicester finished the regular season on forty-seven points from twenty-two games, including seven wins, two draws and two losses at home. City’s Development side found an incredible run of away form in the second half of the campaign, putting five straight losses on the road behind them with a five game winning streak to finish off the term in style.
In the other Play-Off game within Professional Development League Two, Southern winners Charlton Athletic face off against Huddersfield Town on Tuesday, who impressively clawed back three points in three games to pip Derby County to second place in the Northern section. The winners of the Cardiff/Leicester game will host the victors of the Charlton/Huddersfield match in a one off final to crown the national champions (Date TBC).
Tickets for Tuesday night’s game at King Power Stadium, available on the night from the Leicester City Fanstore, will be priced £3 for Adults and £1 for Under-18s. Live commentary will be available on Cardiff City Player from 7pm.
Key Players:High scoring Leicester City managed to hit the back of the net fifty-two times during the course of the season with twenty year-oldJacob Blythtop scoring for the Foxes despite spending time out on loan at Burton Albion and Notts County. Blyth’s shining glory amongst many impressive performances came on December 3rd, a fantastic hat-trick against the esteemed Crewe Alexandra Academy helped the Foxes to a 4-2
Blyth isn’t Leicester’s only threat in front of goal though – former Sunderland forwardMartyn Waghornhas been on the score-sheet on a regular basis for the Foxes’ development side this term, although it’s highly likely that Waghorn will be concentrating on the Championship Play-Off tie with Watford on Thursday. Beaglehole will still be able to call upon the goal-scoring talents of three young strikers for the encounter with Cardiff –Tom Hopper, Joe DodooandHarry Panayiotou.
Tom Hopper signed for Leicester in the summer of 2010 and has shown why the Foxes scouts plucked him from the Unibond league this campaign with goals for both the development side as well as hitting the back of the net while out on loan at League One side Bury. Joe Dodoo has enjoyed a fruitful year in front of goal for both the development side as well as Trevor Peake’s U18 team. A real moment to remember for Harry Panayiotou came on the final day of the 2011/12 season. After travelling with the first team to visit Elland Road and Leeds United, Panayiotou replaced Lloyd Dyer with seventeen minutes left of the game and with the scores level, the young forward fired in a ninety forth minute winner to seal a 2-1 win for the Foxes and a debut goal for Panayiotou to forever remember.
The home side will have a hard decision to make between the sticks for the semi-final withLiam SharpeandAdam Smithcompeting for the gloves. Smith has spent time away with Nuneaton on loan this season, while Sharpe came into the King Power Stadium on a temporary basis from Manchester City in March before agreeing to sign for the club on a permanent basis in the summer. If the home team decide experience is the key between the sticks for the Play-Off game with Cardiff,Conrad Loganis likely to be given the opportunity to prove himself. The twenty-seven year old ‘keeper has been with the Foxes for twelve years, and during that time has won promotion while out on loan at Stockport County. He is currently Leicester’s second choice keeper behind the Championship’s goalkeeper of the seasonKasper Schmeichel.
Leicester are likely to be withoutJames Pearson; the young right back recently signed a new one year deal with the Foxes, who are managed by James’ father Nigel. Another impressive young star to recently sign a new contract isGeorge Taft. The attacking left back has made appearances for Noel Blake’s U18/U19 England side this season while competing for Leicester’s development side on a regular basis.
Last time out:
Leicester City 1-1 Nottingham Forest*Taken from the Leicester City Website*
Ben Marshallwas on the scoresheet as Leicester City’s Development team drew 1-1 with East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest in a keenly contested match at the club’s Belvoir Drive training ground.
Jamie VardyandMartyn Waghornalso featured in a first half dominated by Steve Beaglehole’s Foxes, who had already secured top spot in the league when Marshall curled a stunning 25 yard strike into the top corner on just 12 minutes.
N’Kusu Landustepped up to the mark from 12 yards, and duly sent skipperConrad Loganthe wrong way with a well-taken strike for 1-1.
Leicester City: Logan (c), Anton, Elder, Paratore, Sesay, Taft, Marshall (Dodoo 62), Cain, Vardy (Panayiotou 46), Waghorn (Blyth 86), Hopper.Unused subs: McCourt, Brennan
Barnet 1-3 Cardiff City
Cardiff City’s development side sealed their place in the end of season Play-Offs after a 3-1 win over Barnet at Underhill.
The league’s bottom side took the lead after five minutes when defender Robertson rose highest to meet a free kick from winger Coker, and the centre back’s bullet header gaveElliott Parishno chance in the City goal. The home side saw out the first half, looking the more dangerous side as the away side struggled to build on their early pressure.
Kevin Cooper’s team came out for the second period in a determined fashion though and got a deserved equaliser after fifty nine minutes.Kadeem Harrisplayed the ball through toRhys Healey, who fired in his fifth goal of the season from ten yards out. The team of Healey and Harris combined again nine minutes later, this time it was Healey supplying a long throw for Harris to run onto and poke the ball into the back of the net from close range, a first goal of a campaign for the former Wycombe Wanderers winger.
The win was made secure with eight minutes remaining as top scorerEtien Velikonjamade the most of a rare Barnet defensive lapse. The Slovenian controlled the ball inside the penalty area after some fine closing down work fromFilip Kiss, before slotting past Barnes in a composed fashion to give City the three points.
Cardiff City:Parish, Coulson, John (Owen, 72), Kiss, Oshilaja, Yorwerth, McPhail, Ralls, Healey (Wharton, 88), Velikonja, Harris. Subs Not Used:Richards (GK), Southam, O’Sullivan.