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Blues U21s 2 Sheffield Weds U21s 0

Posted: Wed 07 Nov 2012
Author: Andy Walker

Papa Bouba Diop in action for the Blues development squad

Image by: Roy Smiljanic

Richard Beale's Blues Development Squad returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory over Sheffield Wednesday U21s at Wast Hills.

A second goal in as many U21 games for Papa Bouba Diop set Blues on their way in the 21st minute before Marcel Henry-Francis rifled home a second six minutes later.

The visitors never looked likely to force their way back into the match and Beale's side were able to comfortable see out the victory, their 4th from 9 games in the U21 Professional Development League 2 North this season.

Alongside Diop, fellow first-teamers Keith Fahey and Pablo Ibanez, returning from a broken foot, filled the other two eligible overage player berths in the Blues starting line-up.

Despite a hopeful shot that sailed over from Wednesday's Harry Grant being the first notable chance for either side, Blues meant business from the off.

After a good move down the left in the 12th minute, on-loan Chelsea full-back Ben Gordon squared for Henry-Francis but he sent a side-footed effort just wide.

Having fired a shot from distance high and wide in the 18th minute, Diop ensured he was on target three minutes later to open the scoring and bag his second against a side from the Steel City in as many weeks. A series of intricate passes saw the former Senegal international storm into the Wednesday box and dispatch a low effort well beyond Joe Wildsmith.

It didn't long for Blues to double the lead and Henry-Francis' finish was even classier. The lone frontman picked the ball up 25 yards out before giving Wildsmith no chance with an accurate shot that fizzed into the bottom left corner.

At this stage, The Owls were offering little resistance and Mitch Hancox tried his luck with a half-volley from distance that stung the visiting goalkeeper's fingertips.

Nick Townsend had a quiet afternoon in the Blues goal but he still managed to show a razor-sharp reaction to tip away Matthew Fletcher's header at his near post after the break.

The senior duo of Fahey and Ibanez made way for Brice Ntambwe and Jack Deaman in the 70th minute and the only other chance of note came from the latter's well-struck free-kick in the 77th minute but Wildsmith was wise to the chance.

Development squad coach Richard Beale felt his side fully deserved their win.

“As much as these games are about development everybody wants to win every match because there are three points at stake,” he said.

“In the first half we really controlled the play and had prolonged periods of possession which was pleasing and we stretched the game. We made it hard for Sheffield Wednesday to keep us under control and both of our goals were very good finishes.”

Beale was particularly pleased with the displays of his three senior players – Papa Bouba Diop, Keith Fahey and Pablo Ibanez.

“Papa is looking fitter and stronger which is great,” he said. “He kept a good discipline and he’s a fantastic character and you can see why the manager brought him in because he’s a real example to the young players.

“Keith Fahey was excellent as well and sprayed the ball around and Pablo Ibanez was very comfortable and reads the game well.

“If you have first team pro’s in amongst young players that are doing it properly like those three did then it just helps everybody along. Added to that Josh Hawker, Callum Reilly and Mitch Hancox who are fantastic characters and excellent players all did well which added to a good performance.”

Blues U21s: Nick Townsend; Ryan Higgins, Pablo Ibanez (Jack Deaman 70), Will Packwood (C), Ben Gordon; Josh Hawker (Eddy Gnahore H/T), Keith Fahey (Brice Ntambwe 70), Papa Bouba Diop, Mitch Hancox; Callum Reilly; Marcel Henry-Francis.
Subs not used: Callum Preston, Emmit Delfouneso.

Scorers: Diop (21) and Henry-Francis (27).

Sheffield Wednesday U21s: Joe Wildsmith; Hayden White, Johnny Fenwick, Ayo Obileye (Nick Hague 78), Taylor McKenzie, Cecil Noni, Josh Windass (Bastien Hery 78), Adam Hinchcliffe (Simon Hannah 78), Caolan Lavery, Matthew Fletcher, Harry Grant.
Subs not used: Marc Peacock, Brad Tomlinson.