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Under-23s season review for 2016/17

City's Under-23s enjoyed a successful season overall in 2016/17, finishing fifth in the Professional Development League 2 and – most memorably – taking home the trophy in the Central League Cup Final (South).

The development group are also in the final of the Gloucestershire FA Senior Challenge Cup, which is set to be played during the pre-season for the 2017/18 campaign. 

Shawn McCoulsky caught pretty much everyone’s attention throughout the season, scoring 31 goals across the clubs he played.

Using his pace and power to his advantage, he rattled numerous defenders and provided a constant threat throughout the season for the Under-23s.

Hat-tricks against Colchester United and Watford stood out as highlights for the young forward in a season to remember. McCoulsky also featured for the first team, coming on as a substitute in the EFL League Cup tie against Hull City.

Head Coach Lee Johnson said: “It was brilliant for Shawn and he deserved his chance.”

George Dowling and Lloyd Kelly were the youngest two members of the squad and both earned high praise.

Kelly gained national recognition when he was nominated for the EFL Apprentice of the Year award but unfortunately lost out to Nottingham Forest’s Ben Brereton.

Being nominated is quite a big thing so I will now wait and see what happens on the night, but it will be a good evening to see all the famous faces - I’m buzzing.”

Lloyd Kelly

City came up against a tough Barnet Under-23s side in the final of the Central League Cup (South) going down 1-0 in the first half. Mason-Clark turned in Hernandez’s pin point cross from the left to put the hosts ahead. 

We rallied late in the game, with George Dowling volleying home a Joe Morrell corner in the 85th minute and George Nurse latching onto Cameron Pring’s pass, powering it in at the near post just two minutes later. Barnet would never recover from this late blow and City took home the trophy.

Bristol City Under-23s lifting the Central League Cup.

Starting and ending against Colchester United, City sparked an eight-game unbeaten run winning seven out of the eight games. This helped to propel them up the table after a patchy start to the season. City scored 23 goals during this period to showcase their goal-scoring capabilities. Diego De Girolamo and Shawn McCoulsky hit a rich vein of scoring form here, scoring 11 between them - including hat tricks against Cardiff City and Colchester United.

The squad had a few comings and goings throughout the season, with players such as Freddie Hinds and Osagi Bascome joining the squad. Shabazz Omofe was one player who moved on to pastures new, now plying his trade for Bromley FC in the National League (5th tier). 

Bristol City Under-23s were joined by seven new arrivals from the Under-18s during the season. James Morton, Kel Akpobire, George Nurse, Harvey Smith, Aaron Parsons, Tom Richards and Opi Edwards made the step up and contributed across the campaign. These seven have all been training hard with their new squad after their scholarships were completed in May this year.

There was a change in management this season with Jamie McAllister being rewarded with for his work with the Under-23s and moving on to the first team. Alex Ball, previously the Under-23s assistant coach, stepped up and took on leading the Under-23s assisted by Academy Manager Gary Probert - he was also joined on the bench by Gary O’Neil at one point in the season! Luke Williams has now been appointed Under-23 coach just in time for pre-season, as Alex Ball settles back into his assisting role.