Report: Blues Under-23s 2-1 Norwich City Under-23s
Blues Under-23s beat Norwich City in the Premier League 2 on Monday night.
Under the lights at St. Andrew's, Steve Spooner's side won for the third time in five outings, with a goal in either half ensuring a late penalty from an in-form Canaries was merely arithmetical.
Josh Andrews marked his return to the Under-23s team when he rifled home in the 43rd minute and the advantage was doubled as Marcel Oakley's cross was put into his own net by Josh Giurgi with 68 minutes on the clock.
Abu Kamara was on target from a late penalty, but by that stage, the real damage had been done and Birmingham City were resolute enough during the closing stages to secure the three points.
There was little in the way of goalmouth action for Blues in the early stages as they were required to stand firm to Norwich's advances. Nelson Khumbeni saw a long-range effort blocked by his teammate, Tony Springett, before the latter then had his own shot inside the box deflected behind by Rico Browne.
But this served as a useful wake-up call for the hosts and capitalising on a loose ball, Andrews surged forward and delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Josh Williams. The wideman took this confidently in his stride and was able to beat the 'keeper with his shot but also the outside of the post.
It was again Andrews - on his first PL2 outing - providing chances for his teammates after a quarter of an hour. This time he delicately set back Oriol Soldevila's sweeping centre, with George Hall swiping narrowly wide.
The provider then turned potential scorer when Jobe Bellingham teed him up, Andrews going low with his right foot and forcing Jon McCracken to scamper across his line and parry the ball away.
And the number nine had an even better chance just moments later. Fine work from Jobe Bellingham saw the midfielder ghost past his man and clip Andrews through from the halfway line, only for the bouncing ball to prove too lively for the frontman to keep on target when trying to lob the 'keeper.
Fortunately, it proved to be a case of third time lucky when Andrews found the net close to half-time as the visitors failed to recognise the warning signs. A neat combination between the goalscorer and Remi Walker created an opening and the striker nudged the ball to give himself a yard before finding the far corner thanks to a fizzing strike.
Further openings came either side of the break as Williams went close on the stretch and Oakley marauded into the box just minutes into the second period, went down under a challenge, but was not awarded a penalty.
Norwich looked to respond but were unable to raise themselves from their tepid first-half showing and Blues pounced upon this to punish the away team for goal number two.
A well-worked move gave Oakley the opportunity to deliver from the right flank and his dangerous cross was turned in by the unfortunate Giurgi who was unaware of his surroundings.
Although the match was far from done as a contest and the Canaries should have halved the deficit as events moved into the final 20. Springett managed to work his way into the box, holding off chasing opponents but bobbled his eventual strike outside of the upright.
The lively attacker continued to be the biggest thorn in Blues' side and won a penalty when he and Tate Campbell collided inside the area, with Kamara converting from 12 yards.
Blues' frustration with the officials was then not helped as they missed McCracken's misjudgement that saw him catch a long ball forward outside of the 18-yard box. However, they were able to put this sense of injustice to the back of their minds and ensure they saw the game out in a professional manner as they continue to grow at Category 1 level.
In fact, the margin of victory could have been greater. With just 120 seconds of normal time remaining, substitute Kyle Hurst elected to shoot from distance and cracked the woodwork.
The Under-23s are back in action when they travel to Fulham on Friday 1 April, kick-off 7pm.
Blues: Zach Jeacock, Marcel Oakley, Tate Campbell (captain), Rico Browne, Josh Williams, Kane Thompson-Sommers, Remi Walker, Jobe Bellingham, Oriol Soldevila (Kyle Hurst 84), Josh Andrews (Kieran Wakefield 63), George Hall (Brandon Khela 46).
Substitutes not used: Oliver Basey, Rico Patterson.
Booking: Thompson-Sommers 22, Jeacock 84, Wakefield 90+3.
Norwich City: Jon McCracken, Josh Giurgi, Lewis Shipley Jon Tomkinson (captain), Jaden Warner, Nelson Khumbeni (Joe Duffy 62), Abu Kamara, Liam Gibbs, Alex Matos (Ken Aboh 62), Tony Springett, Saxon Earley.
Substitutes not used: Joe Rose, Kenny Coker.
Booking: McCracken 55, Shipley 71, Tomkinson 84.
Referee: Scott Simpson