Welcome to your City Watch fortnightly round-up of the youth setup at Manchester City where the ongoings of City’s Under-23 and Under-18 sides for the previous two weeks will be documented alongside a one-to-watch for the fixtures ahead.
City’s Elite Development Side’s only fixture in the last week was away at Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-0 defeat. On paper, City looked to have the better of the sides as Cameron Humphreys, Claudio Gomes, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Benjamin Garre, Adrian Bernabe and Nabil Touaizi all started. Each of the players did get game-time on the first-team’s pre-season tour of the States.
Spurs’ first-team’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino, was in attendance at The Lamex Stadium, home of Stevenage, to watch his youngsters and they didn’t disappoint. Spurs lead through Shayon Harrison after 21 minutes and less than eight minutes later Paris Maghoma’s finish culminated a fine counter-attack to double the hosts lead.
City’s second loss on the bounce leaves them in sixth position in the Premier League 2, as Paul Harsley’s side will be hoping to get back to winning ways in the UEFA Youth League against Lyon on Wednesday.
The first of City’s two fixtures in the last fortnight was an away trip to Derby County. The Rams lead through Morgan Whittaker as he was at hand to tap-in from close range. Keyendrah Simmonds then equalised on 70 minutes as he finished D’Margio Wright-Phillips’ cross, who is the son of cult hero Shaun Wright-Phillips. Goalkeeper Louie Moulden was unfortunate to have handled the ball outside the box and received a red card, meaning Lewis Thomas would take his place between the sticks for the remainder of the game. On the 85th minute mark, City’s lead was doubled through Simmonds again as similarly to City’s opener, he neatly finished another pinpoint cross of Wright-Phillips’. Derby then pulled a late equaliser back through substitute James Brown to make it 2-2 in the dying embers.
In the latter of the U18s’ games over the last two weeks, City played against Sunderland at the Academy of Light. Summer signing Ben Knight made his first start in the league for City’s U18s as he started as part of an attacking trio with Lewis Fiorini and Simmonds. It was Simmonds who opened the scoring with yet another goal for City on the hour mark. It was cancelled out by another late equaliser from the opposition, this time a penalty from Connor Slack to level the scores at 1-1.
Following the two fixtures, the U18s are perched in fourth in the North division with table toppers Everton being the next test in the League.
One to watch
The first name to keep close tabs on for the future has to be Keyendrah Simmonds. When aged just 16, Simmonds netted 13 goals in 20 appearances on the wing for City’s U18 side in the 2017/18 campaign. Now 17, Simmonds now has four goals in as many appearances displaying what a prominent figure he is in the side.
Interchangeable across the front three but most commonly used on the left, Simmonds demonstrates his remarkable close control and dribbling ability in one-on-one situations. He also has an eye for goal from varying distances, whether that be from open play or a set-piece, Simmonds is proficient in multiple scenarios.
Simmonds is also a regular for England and is part of their U18 side, so it might not be long before he continues to advance up the age groups for the Three Lions and becomes a leading figure in the U23’s.