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Report: Blues Under-23s 0 Watford Under-23s 1

Posted: Mon 15 Aug 2016
Author: bcfc.com

They say seeing is believing.

Well, you certainly had to see to believe what happened to Blues in their opening Professional Development League 2 match at St. Andrew's.

They dominated the match from first to last, turning in a really positive and powerful performance.

But just one thing was missing - goals.

Blues had enough chances to have won the fixture thrice over but, for all their endeavour and perseverance, just couldn't administer the killer blows that they really merited.

Blues fielded a 4-4-2 with Noe Baba (captaining the side) and Luke Maxwell at centre-half.

Up top Koby Arthur partnered Kyle McFarlane and numerous chances came that pair's way in a rather bizarre first-half that set the tone.

Arthur could have had two hat-tricks and McFarlane a treble, plus there were other openings created.

But a dominant Blues side just couldn't stick the ball in the back of the net and were left reeling on the stroke of the break when the visitors scored a freak opener.

In haste to clear from in front of their own goal after a surge towards the byline by Michael Folivi, Josh Cogley got the ball from off the line 

but it cannoned back off Dominic Bernard to leave Alex Jakubiak to gleely slam in from a couple of yards.

It was an absolute sickener for Blues, who should have been out of sight in the first 45 minutes.

From a raking Charlie Cooper cross-field pass, Corey O'Keeffe teed-up Arthur, coming round to the right to just inside the box, but he planted his shot wide.

That was a signpost as next McFarlane drilled an attempt not far away from the post before Arthur missed two great chances in a matter of seconds.

First he elected to try and prod in an inviting chip by O'Keeffe rather than spear it in with his head from six yards. And then, after the ball was played back in from the left by Wes McDonald, he got up well to meet the cross but succeeded in nodding it down and wide from 10 yards.

After Blues opened up Watford on the right, Josh Cogley squared the ball across the face of the six-yard box but, with the goal gaping, McFarlane slid in just a fraction too late.

McDonald was denied by a fine save from Charlie Bannister, who pawed out his shot from the left of the box that was swerving to the top corner.

Blues thought they had scored when McFarlane got up at the far post and beat Bannister with his header, but Charles Rowan stuck out his chest to stop the effort on the goal line; Blues appealed that it was a couple of yards over, but referee and linesman answered in the negative.

To add insult to injury just moments later Watford broke down the other end in a rare foray and stunned Blues by taking the lead in fortuitous circumstances.

The Hornets were not prised open as easily in the second-half but once Blues got into their stride, again the siege of their goal transpired - and again only the final finish touch was lacking.

McDonald was first to threaten after winning a block tackle on the edge of the box. He moved a step or two to the right and cracked an arching shot onto the face of the crossbar.

Arthur, whose movement and ability to get into threaten spaces was excellent, then let rip with a rasping left-footer from 18 yards that only just skimmed past the post.

With 18 minutes left and Blues continuing to plug away with energy and urgency, Rowan once more cleared from his own goal line, this time heading away a volley at the back post by McDonald that was thumped into the turf and reared up past Bannister.

When O'Keeffe came storming in for a corner delivered deep by Cooper, and with the 'keeper struggling, it seemed that surely - at last - Blues were to score . . . but no, his strong header went the wrong side of the upright.

Cogley was next to try to find a way through, driving into the right of the area before drilling a powerful shot that zipped a yard past the far post.

Charlee Adams unleashed a couple of dangerous long range efforts as Blues continued to bang on the door right until the very end.

But alas it was not to be; a most one-sided game you are ever likely to see at St. Andrew's came to an improbable, unfair, disappointing conclusion.

Blues: Trueman, Cogley, Bernard, Charlee Adams, Baba (Martin 74), Maxwell, O'Keeffe (Popa 86), Cooper, McFarlane, Arthur, McDonald. Not used: Weaver, Seddon, Lubala.
Watford: Bannister, Eleftheriou, Rowan, Ryan, Pereira, Obi, Charles, Stewart, Folivi, Jakubiak, Adeyemo (Stevens 66). Not used: Ovenden.