Blues U21s produced a scintillating half of attacking football to thrash Derby County on Monday afternoon.
All four of Blues' goals came before half-time. Newcastle trialist Michael Richardson hit a brace for Richard Beale's side at Derby's Moor Farm training ground, before Koby Arthur and James Fry scored a goal apiece.
Blues made a great start and went ahead after just eight minutes. Keeper Callum Preston sent a long kick forward, but a mistake by the Derby centre-back saw him head the ball backwards towards his own goalmouth. Richardson took advantage by nipping in and clinically putting the ball in the back of the net.
Derby had the opportunity to get back in the game just five minutes after Blues' opener, but Michael Jacobs was only able to find the base of the Blues post with his low, angled shot. Richardson then doubled his side's advantage after 26 minutes. Arthur chased the Derby right-back James O'Connor down before stealing the ball and sliding an inch perfect pass across the front of The Rams' box where the Newcastle man was waiting to slam it home from close-range.
The impressive Arthur got the goal his earlier play had deserved just after the half-hour mark. The Ghanaian youngster collected the ball on the edge of the area before beating his marker and curling a fabulous shot into the back of the net.
As half-time approached James Fry capped off an exemplary first 45 minutes for Blues when he forced the ball home from close-range following a corner.
Having been so comprehensively outplayed in the first half, Derby emerged with more conviction in the second period. But it was Beale's boys who fashioned the next opening as Reece Hales saw his shot clip the post and go behind for a goal-kick.
Derby were making the odd foray forward, but never really looking like scoring and when they got shots on target keeper Preston was equal to them. Hales was unlucky to see a second effort rebound off the post late on, but Blues held on for a comfortable victory and were fully deserving of all three points against a much more experienced Derby outfit.
Academy boss Beale was naturally delighted with the comprehensive nature of his team’s win.
“It was very pleasing,” he said. “We looked at Derby’s team sheet and they had a fair bit of experience in there. But we responded with an excellent performance, although it is nothing less than we expect from them because we know we’ve got good players.
“We pressed them and won the ball high up the pitch and didn’t give them a minute to settle on the ball and the players carried out our instructions to the letter.
“We scored all of our goals in the first half, but I thought the boys played well for the whole 90 minutes. We didn’t have as much authority in the second half but we did the basics well and Reece Hales has hit the post twice.
“The trick for them now is to reproduce that sort of form game in and game out and not rest on their laurels.”
Blues U21s: Callum Preston, Ryan Higgins, Amarii Bell, Oliver Lee, James Fry, Jack Deaman, Theo Bailey-Jones (Curtis Edwards 54), Eddy Gnahore, Reece Hales, Michael Richardson, Koby Arthur.
Subs (not used): Liam Truslove, Connal Trueman, Reece Brown, Nat Kelly.