Baker aiming for more Play-Off glory

George Baker.
George Baker

I just want to stay injury-free and get as many games as I can now - and help the team achieve something.

George Baker.

Blues Under-23s are capable of replicating last season's success, says George Baker.

The side reached the National Play-Off Final, losing to league rivals Leeds United at Elland Road on penalties in an absorbing contest.

Blues qualified by virtue of finishing second in the PDL North - Leeds pipped them to the title - and then seeing off Ipswich Town at Portman Road in the Semi-Final.

Blues went to the top of the league after Monday's 1-0 away success at Crewe Alexandra.

It was their fourth straight PDL victory - and the team has not conceded a goal in that period.

Baker, who made his first start of the season after injury, said: "We have got a good group of players and we are all close.

"That's what's making us perform out on the pitch. We are together.

"If we carry on like this I can see us in the Play-Offs (a top two finish) like last year."

The strength in depth was there to see at Reaseheath.

Blues were without Geraldo Bajrami, Ryan Stirk and Caolan Boyd-Munce, due to Under-21 international commitments. And Odin Bailey, who played in the last match, in the Premier League Cup, who was ill; Josh Andrews was also unavailable.

But Mitch Roberts stepped in at centre-half alongside Joe Redmond, Tate Campbell provided good contributions as the midfield pivot and Baker slotted into the right side of the midfield diamond. Kyle Hurst came on as substitute, for his Under-23s return after playing with the Under-18s for the majority of the season.

Miguel Fernandez scored the only goal, fired in from an indirect free-kick.

The Under-23s - who have been recently led by Steve Spooner as Xavi Calm has been seconded to assist with First Team coaching - stick to a passing game, but also showed their resilience on a difficult, heavy pitch on Monday afternoon.

Baker said: "Coming to Crewe, we knew what the conditions would be like and we knew how they would approach the game.

"As a team we handled them well and got a deserved victory.

"Obviously we have our way of playing. You adapt to the pitch and recognise what you have to do, but our football was still Birmingham City's.

"In the first-half I thought we could have got a few goals.

"We could have taken a few more shots. Maybe we were trying to pass it into the net at times. But we always felt a goal was going to come."

Blues allowed Crewe back into proceedings in the final quarter or so.

Baker said: "That's when we stopped playing our game and played into their hands. We put pressure on ourselves. But, as a team, we dealt with it and got the victory."

Baker, who signed his first professional contract in May, was delighted to be in the thick of things again.

"It was good to be out there. I just want to play football. Starting a game was good.

"It has not been great, out injured. But I have been working hard in rehab to get on the pitch again.

"I just want to stay injury-free and get as many games as I can now - and help the team achieve something."

* Blues' next home game is on Friday, at the Trillion Trophy Training Centre, Wast Hills, against Hull City (1.30pm).