VIDEO: Kendal hold Premiership champions to a draw in gritty Parkside Road encounter (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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VIDEO: Kendal hold Premiership champions to a draw in gritty Parkside Road encounter
Kendal Town 2, Manchester City 2
BATTLING Kendal Town picked up a memorable 2-2 draw with Premiership champions Manchester City in a high-tempo tie at Parkside Road.
Pre-match reports that Paraguay international Roque Santa Cruz would captain the side turned out to be false, but City's side boasted some of the best young talent in the world, including Slovakian Under-18 captain Albert Rusnak, keeper Angus Gunn, son of Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn who Manchester City paid £250,000 for, and junior England internationals on the bench.
The movement of the City midfield was a joy for the 511 fans to behold as full backs Reece Wabara and Ryan McGivern pushed forward, and some of the passes sprayed out to the wings were sensational.
But it was the Black and Whites who drew first blood when Alex Taylor was brought down in the box as Kendal were pushing for their first attempt at the champions' goal.
Kevin Leadbetter stepped up and confidently stroked the ball beyond Gunn to give Kendal a surprise lead.
Craig Dootson produced several inspired saves for Kendal, pushing an Emyr Huws effort over the bar and stopping the impressive Alex Nimley on a number of occasions in the first half. The pick of the stops was a superb one-handed block from Alex Henshall after the right winger curled an effort with the outside of his left boot.
But Henshall equalised with seven minutes of the first half remaining, cutting inside left-back Paul Alexander and letting rip a fine effort which left Dootson with no chance.
Town came out for the second half fired up, proven by subsitute Charlie Joyce getting booked early on with an over-zealous challenge on Huws that meant the City midfielder had to be substituted.
Nimley was getting into the game more and more, charging at the Kendal back line with gusto but Town's back line, containing new signing Jack Duggen from Fleetwood Town, dealt with the threat well.
That was until the hour-mark when another solo effort by Nimley couldn't be stopped by Danny Williams sliding back to make a challenge and the English champions were ahead.
But the lead only lasted five minutes. Adam Farrell was rewarded for his persistence by punishing some sloppy play by the Man City centre halves and poking a teasing cross into the net to make it 2-2.
Town boss Lee Ashcroft will have been pleased to see his side see out the game, unlike in their previous two matches where Kendal looked to have faded towards the end.
Farrell's 25-yarder was only a whisker away from giving the Parkside Road outfit the lead with 15 minutes left, while the pacy Rusnak had an effort saved at the near post for City.
The last chance of the game fell to England Under 19 international Kieran Kennedy, who was forced to stoop too low to direct his header on target, and Kendal Town came away with a well-deserved 2-2 draw.
Kendal Town: Dootson, Jordan Tucker, Alexander, Duggen, Joseph (c), Randell, Farrell, Taylor, Kenworthy, Williams, Leadbetter
Subs: Leigh, Joyce, Barron, Jason Tucker, Malin.
Manchester City: Gunn, Wabara (c), McGivern, Glendon, Plummer, Bossaerts, Henshall, Huws, Gomes Da Pina, Nimley, Rusnak.
Subs: Facey, Sharp, Kennedy, Leigh, Hutton, Drury.