Report: Queens Park Rangers Under-18s 2-1 Blues Under-18s
Blues Under-18s were beaten by Queens Park Rangers in the Professional Development League on Saturday.
A performance full of heart and character was not quite enough to take anything from the season curtain raiser, during which the visitors were controversially reduced to ten players early in the second-half at Heston Training Ground.
This followed an impressive opening 45 that saw Birmingham City take a deserved lead through Ben Beresford after a fine passage of play.
Prior to the frontman's strike, Rangers' goalkeeper Harry Cant had twice been called into action and was thankful for one of his teammates producing a goalline clearance.
However, Blues were not to be denied and deservedly struck. A well-worked goal was the result of cutting build-up play down the right and when Pharrell Williams beat the full-back, Niall Rushton was denied from the initial effort before Beresford anticipated well to finish the move off.
The lead could have been extended further going into the break but whilst another goal did arrive, it was for the hosts just minutes later. Skipper Sam Sackey took up possession in the midfield and after moving forward found the target from distance.
Morgan Dance had to be withdrawn through injury during the recess and events took another unfortunate turn ten minutes after the interval when Byron Pendleton was given his marching orders after tangling with an opposition forward, despite a yellow card appearing to be the most likely decision.
Initially, this did not change the match's pattern significantly and there was a tremendous spirit on display from a young Blues side that stuck admirably to the task at hand.
'Keeper Callum O'Sullivan did well to keep QPR at bay but they would find a winning goal through Lorent Talla. A neat corner routine created an opening for the attacking midfielder who managed to squeeze the ball home from inside the penalty box.
Speaking to BCFC.com post-match, Lead Under-18s Coach, Martyn Olorenshaw, gave his assessment of the contest in the capital.
"I was really pleased with the first 45 minutes and how we started. We created four or five real clear-cut chances. But in general, I was really pleased with how we played in and out of possession.
"The red card didn't rock us but did change how we could play a little bit. The players though showed a lot of personality in this situation.
"It was an all-first-year backline and they did really well. In their first league minutes, they impressed. I was really pleased with the performance."
Blues are back in action when they host Cardiff City at Wast Hills Training Ground on Saturday 27 August, kick-off 12pm, and Olorenshaw is looking forward to reacting when the Bluebirds visit the Second City.
"We are looking to bounce back this week. We know Cardiff are going to try and play in a similar way to us. That should be a good test for us.
"I want the players to keep building on what was a long pre-season of ten or 11 weeks. I want them to keep up that good work as the lads have been working really hard.
"I was more than satisfied with what we did in this first game and now we can get into the thick of it. I am looking forward to it."
Blues: Will O'Sullivan, Pendleton, Willis, Dodd, Mazwi, Oduka (Ellis 60), Home (Captain), Rushton, Dance (Ruiz Rente 46), Williams (Eubank 80), Beresford (Donovan 60).
Substitutes not used: Sayer.
Booking: Home 25, Pendleton sent off 55.