Three goals in the space of ten second-half minutes did the damage – a fine solo effort from Koby Arthur sandwiched between a Liam Truslove brace. Although the goals didn’t arrive until the final quarter of the game, the result never really looked in doubt.
Richard Beale’s young side should have won by a far greater margin as numerous chances were squandered during a dominant display, particularly in the first-half. Akwasi Asante was a constant menace to the Tipton defence but the hard-working striker just lacked that killer instinct in front of goal. The 21-year-old was twice denied by the legs of home keeper Matt Martin and was narrowly off target with two more shots as well as a header from an excellently-worked corner-kick routine.
Charlee Adams did have the ball in the net from Truslove’s 31st minute in-swinging free-kick but his celebrations were cut short by the assistant’s offside flag. And Truslove himself should have broken the deadlock when the ball dropped to him inside the area from one of Asante’s saved shots but, with the goal gaping, the midfielder’s effort lacked sufficient power and the hosts were able to clear the ball off the line.
More chances went begging early in the second period. Asante side-footed wide from close-range having been teed up by Amari’i Bell’s terrific out-swinging cross. James Fry headed over the bar from a corner and Reece Webb also missed a glorious chance when he miscued his shot when well placed in front of goal. But Webb made amends by setting up the game’s opening goal on 66 minutes with an excellent run and cross that was finished off clinically by Truslove.
Once the floodgates had been opened Blues quickly killed the game off. Three minutes later Arthur’s powerful run took him through the tiring Tipton defence and he slotted the ball coolly past the onrushing Martin. And two became three on 75 minutes when Truslove picked up the ball just outside the area and curled a delightful shot past the outreached arms of Martin.
With the tie in the bag, Beale made three substitutions including a late run-out for Reece Hales, just 24 hours on from his first start for loan club Worcester City in their victorious FA Cup replay. And the striker almost added to the score with a forging run and shot that was saved by Martin.
All in all it was a very satisfactory night’s work, with many of Beale’s youngsters taking their chance to shine in front of the watching Lee Clark and his complete backroom staff who were amongst the 227 crowd at the Tipton Sports Academy.
Blues: Townsend, Higgins, Bell, Adams, Fry, Kelly, Webb (O’Neill 76), Truslove, Asante, Arthur (Cooper 81), Solomon (Hales 77).