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A bridge too far for the kids

Posted: Thu 07 Feb 2013
Author: Peter Lewis

Charlee Adams

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Stourbridge scored twice in injury-time to knock a young Blues side out of the Birmingham Senior Cup at the Memorial Ground tonight.

Blues had led courtesy of Charlee Adams’ 65th minute strike but the non-league hosts drew level with eight minutes left through Luke Benbow, which sparked a prolonged late onslaught on the visitors’ goal during a staggering 11 minutes of additional time. The non-league side’s pressure was finally rewarded when Leon Broadhurst pounced and the impressive Benbow added a third for good measure. 

Richard Beale’s side, which was made up entirely of players under the age of 20, had battled hard for most of the night and at times played some good football on a sticky surface. But Stourbridge, who are third in non-league’s third tier and came into the game off the back of six wins in eight outings, were a threat going forward with Benbow a continual menace.

Chances were few and far between in the first half. Blues were indebted to James Fry for a tremendous block on Benbow’s fierce goal-bound shot early on and the striker crashed in another effort that was deflected off target. Richard Beale’s side carved out chances of their own during a hard-fought opening period - Mitch Hancox’s speculative long distance drive never looked like troubling Dean Coleman but the Stourbridge keeper did have to be alert to deny Marcel Henry-Francis as the Blues forward looked to force the ball home after a goalmouth scramble.

The former Kidderminster Harriers custodian was drawn into action again soon after the break to tip over a Reece Hales shot. And when the resultant corner was cleared Benbow raced clear at the other end but delayed his shot and was eventually dispossessed.

Jack Deaman saw his 25-yard free-kick deflected wide off the Stourbridge wall for a corner which led to Blues taking the lead. Coleman showed great reflexes to parry away Hales’ shot but the ball broke to Adams who saw his first effort blocked but he found the target at the second attempt with a dipping half-volley from just inside the area,     

Buoyed by the goal, the Blues players started to spray the ball around with confidence but still had to be aware of their hosts’ quick breakaways. From one such attack Townsend was on his toes to turn aside a fizzing shot from Sean Geddes. The equaliser arrived when danger man Benbow fired home from Sean Evans’ cross. 

Jamie Oliver made a pudding of a gilt-edged chance to win it when he fired over from only five yards out following Sean Geddes’ well-executed free-kick. But the Glassboys were not to be denied and six minutes into injury-time Broadhurst’s emphatic finish off the underside of the bar put the hosts ahead. 

Benbow, who is part of the development programme run by the Blues Community Trust, then capped a man-of-the-match display by adding a third two minutes later to put the seal on a memorable cup night for the non-leaguers.

Development squad coach Beale was pleased with his young players’ application, but admitted they were just not good enough in possession of the ball. 

“We lost which was disappointing, and ultimately we weren’t good enough to beat them,” said Beale. “They were a good team and they have a lot of experience and nous as they also showed when they also beat West Brom in the last round. 

“At 1-0 we looked quite comfortable, but then we conceded a poor goal with ten minutes to go and you then want your lads to stand up and be counted. I couldn’t question them in terms of their desire and attitude, but I was disappointed with how we played with the ball. I thought we could have been a little bit more composed at times. 

“With the way Stourbridge performed over the last 15 minutes of the game they probably deserved to go through.”

On an individual basis Beale singled out the performance of 17-year-old Koby Arthur in the centre of midfield as deserving of a mention.

“I thought Koby Arthur was excellent in the middle of the park,” he added. “It was the first reserve game he’d played and he really went about it in the right way. He won his headers and tackles and he got the ball down and tried to pass it and he can be very pleased with the way he played.”

Blues: Nick Townsend, Ryan Higgins, Amari’i Bell, Mitch Hancox, James Fry, Jack Deaman, Charlee Adams (Demarai Gray 89), Koby Arthur (Liam Truslove 89), Marcel Henry-Francis, Reece Hales, Josh Hawker. 

Stourbridge: Dean Coleman, Tom Turton (Chris Knight 68), Paul Lloyd, Paul McCone, Sean Geddes, Lee Osborne, Jamie Oliver, Leon Broadhurst, Luke Benbow, James McPike (Drew Canavan 68), Sean Evans.