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Report: Cheltenham Town 0 Blues 3

Blues made it two wins from two this weekend thanks to goals from Lakin, Lubala and Ndoye.

BCFC

Blues continued their pre-season preparations with a comfortable 3-0 victory over League Two side Cheltenham Town.

Goals from Charlie Lakin, Bez Lubala and a late Cheikh Ndoye penalty was enough to seal the victory in what was the Club’s fourth friendly of the summer.

Lakin’s 26th minute opener set Blues on their way to what was a routine win whilst Lubala wouldn’t have known much about his second half header when it rolled home ten minutes into the second half.

Substitute Kyle McFarlane was tripped inside the box in the final moments of the game and Ndoye, back from his World Cup adventure with Senegal, thumped a third into the top corner in front of a rapturous traveling support.

Garry Monk named a youthful starting line-up just less than 24-hours after seeing his senior players run out 1-0 victors over Doncaster Rovers.

It took Blues just five minutes to register the first chance of the game. Charlie Lakin seized up on a loose pass in the middle of the park and released Viv Solomon-Otabor down the Blues left. The pacey winger only had one thought in his mind and after running at his defender, cut in on his favoured right foot and sent a curling effort inches wide of the far post.

The lively duo of Bez Lubala and Solomon-Otabor combined moments later as Blues looked to set a quick early tempo to the game. Lubala, an ever-willing runner, hit the by-line and picked out Solomon Otabor whose tame effort found the midriff of Scott Flinders in the Cheltenham goal.

The game had settled into a steady rhythm by the time Blues found the opening goal on 26 minutes. Lakin’s reverse pass changed the direction of the Blues attack and found Steve Seddon with his back to goal inside the area. The Blues winger saw his left-footed effort blocked but Lakin had followed his initial pass and after beating his marker to the ball, prodded a low effort past the onrushing Flinders and into the bottom corner.

It was a deserved goal for the 19-year old Blues architect who was busy all afternoon.

It was Blues who continued to ask all the questions and when Wes Harding intercepted a cross-field pass on the half way line, it spelled danger for the hosts. The powerful defender glided past two challenges and found Seddon who pulled away onto the penalty spot. Seddon was allowed to turn and in one movement wrapped his foot around the ball but narrowly wide of the upright.

Blues physical conditioning, so prevalent over the course of their ten-day camp in Austria, was telling as the half wore on. O’Keeffe and Seddon provided some ball-carrying width whilst Lubala and Solomon-Otabor were a constant threat up against a four-man backline.

The hosts were intent on breaking forward when they could and through Alex Addai caused problems down the Blues left. Connal Trueman dealt with successive crosses into the box but it was a half which saw the young keeper a spectator for the most part.

Half Time: Cheltenham Town 0-1 Blues (Lakin 26)

Solomon-Otabor chopped himself away from his marker as Blues looked for a lively start to the second period. The ball fell to Lubala who after some neat footwork himself was brought down on the edge of the box. Solomon-Otabor staked his claim to take the free-kick and whipped the ball towards the near post, stinging the palms of Flinders.

Moments later and Blues had a second. Lakin, the scorer of Blues opener now turned provider as his in swinging corner seemed destined for the clutches of the Cheltenham keeper. Lubala was being a nuisance around the six-yard box and the ball dropped onto the head of the Blues forward, not that he knew much about it and rolled into the net.

Garry Monk’s side had now found their groove and on the stroke of the hour mark were denied a third by a stunning save. Lakin’s low cross was cleared to the edge of the box where Seddon didn’t have to break stride before sending a swerving half-volley towards the bottom corner. Flinders would have seen it late and was at full stretch when he pounced to  turn the ball past the post.

Kalvin Kalala quickly reminded everyone that the Robin’s weren’t out the contest with a rasping effort that in truth was always rising over the bar.

Blues had the ball in the net for a third time but were denied by an offside flag. Usual suspects, Lakin and Lubala fought their way past two challenges with the former sending a dipping half-volley goalwards. Flinders parried into the path of O’Keeffe who slammed home with his instep only for his celebrations were quickly cut short.

Blues were two up and thriving. McFarlane was introduced and immediately surged down the right as his teammates poured forward. His pass across the box found Seddon but the wideman’s touch deserted him as he looked to nudge it past his marker.

The biggest cheer of the day came in the dying embers of the game when Cheikh Ndoye was handed the ball to drill home a penalty in front of the travelling support. Lubala launched a blistering counter attack from deep and after finding McFarlane with a sliderule pass down the inside right, the substitute was tripped inside the area.

The 1,218 travelling Blues fans demanded that the Senegalese international was to take the resulting spot kick and Ndoye didn’t disappoint, thumping past Flinders to put the seal on a comfortable victory for Garry Monk’s men.

Blues: Trueman, Harding, Dacres-Cogley, Ndoye, Roberts, Bernard, O’Keeffe (McFarlane 70), Lakin, Lubala, Solomon-Otabor, Seddon

Subs (not used): Martin, Weaver, Amartey, Stirk, Redmond

Goals: Lakin 26, Lubala 52, Ndoye 89

Bookings:

Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Long (Smith 72), Tozer, Mullins, Atangana, Thomas (Lloyd 72), Broom, Boyle, Addai, Debayo (Bower 72), Kalala (Forster 72)

Subs (not used): Duncan, Dawson, Graham, Lovett, Brennan, Briscoe

Goals:

Bookings:

Attendance: 2,234 (1,218 Blues)

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