Wilkinson & Bojaj score in top of table clash
A young Town Under-21 side recorded a good 2-1 win over top of the table Nottingham Forest in the Professional Development League 2 at PPG Canalside on Good Friday.
For the fourth consecutive game, Frankie Bunn didn’t select any of the four overage players permitted in the division; instead fielding one 21 year-old, one 20 year-old, two 19 year-olds, four 18 year-olds and three 17 year-olds.
The win – sealed by first-half goals from centre back Joe Wilkinson and striker Flo Bojaj – was a fourth straight victory for the Under-21s and a sixth in just seven games.
Prior to the match Forest had won 11 and drawn three of their last 14 encounters, but this victory has closed the gap between the two sides – Town are second – to five points, with the Terriers also having a game in hand.
Town goalkeeper Lloyd Allinson had to be alert just four minutes in to tip a whipped corner from Jorge Grant over the crossbar, but Bunn’s side soon took the lead through a set-piece of its own just three minutes later. After Bojaj (pictured above) was pushed in the back, Academy scholar Jack Senior delivered a fantastic free-kick into the area for defender Wilkinson to head home, despite a valiant attempt from the goalkeeper.
The visitors saw plenty of the ball after the opener, but soon found themselves two down inside 17 minutes courtesy of a superb counter-attack. After second year Academy scholar Danny Kane, who was making his first U21 start, won the ball for his side, Sondre Tronstad and Rekeil Pyke combined to put Duane Holmes into space. The midfielder slid a perfect pass into Bojaj’s path and he took once touch before slamming a low left-footed shot across the goalkeeper and into the net.
Senior and Kane both sent efforts off target as Town enjoyed the ascendancy, but Allinson was fortunate at the other end when centre back Roger Riera Canadell’s header was deflected wide after the Town custodian got underneath a corner.
Forest had a goal ruled out for offside just into the second half, but Town still carried a threat at the other end; powerful striker Pyke seeing a stinging shot saved by goalkeeper Ross Durrant just after the hour mark.
Allinson made an excellent save with 20 minutes left to keep out a shot from Matt Cash, whereas Senior blasted wide from range at the other end 10 minutes later.
Visiting midfielder Jack Blake wasted a presentable opportunity with four minutes left, but Forest did get on the scoresheet in the final minute of normal time when substitute Kasheme Walton tapped home unopposed at the far post.
Despite this – and four minutes of added time – Town saw out the remaining time relatively comfortably to secure all three points.
Lloyd Allinson, Jacob Hanson, Jack Senior, Duane Holmes, Joe Wilkinson (c), Danny Kane, Sondre Tronstad, Philip Billing (Regan Booty, 49), Ben Holmes, Flo Bojaj, Rekeil Pyke
Ed Wilczynski, Ben Atkinson, Jack Boyle, Jamie Spencer
Danny Kane (71)
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