Report: Blues Under-18s 3 QPR Under-18s 2

Credit to them for taking that on board and showing some grit and determination in their last two performances, as well as scoring nine goals

Steve Spooner

Blues Under-18s scored late on to record a narrow victory over 10-man Queens Park Rangers at the Trillion Trophy Training Centre.

Substitute Amari Miller fired in the winner, after Adan George had earlier netted a brace for Steve Spooner’s side.

Both sides started the game brightly, with the visitors winning two early free-kicks which failed to trouble Blues.

Josh Bradley-Hurst was called into action to make the first save of the game after Khaliq Callender was played through over the top, but the midfielder’s near post effort was brilliantly stopped by the outstretched leg of the Blues 'keeper.

But it was Blues that took the lead on the counter-attack, after George was alert to find space in the penalty before firing home.

Blues came close to doubling their advantage minutes later after Oumar Traore was quick to react to a slip by Rangers left-back and he drilled the ball across to Tate Campbell, but the midfielder’s effort was saved by Murphy Cooper.

Just after the half-hour mark QPR were level. A pass back to Bradley-Hurst from midfield bobbled under the 'keeper’s boot and he was unable to divert it from going into the back of the net.

The unexpected goal for the visitors fired them up for the closing stages of the first-half as they started running at Blues’ defence with a lot more confidence.

And sure enough they took the lead just before half-time after Charley Kendall latched onto a ball over Blues’ defence and the forward smashed the ball past Bradley-Hurst.

Blues started the second-half at a much quicker tempo as they looked to bring full-backs Mitchell Roberts and Nick Kinina into their attacks.

It almost instantly paid off as they found themselves were level after six minutes.

Kinina and George Baker played some nice one-pass movement down the right flank and Kinina was able to get past his defender before pulling the ball across goal to be tapped in by George.

As the game went on, Blues were looking the more dangerous of the two sides as they looked to regain that one goal advantage.

The golden chance came in the 77th minute when substitute Miller found space in between the two centre-halves and Ryan Stirk was able to lift the ball into the path of the youngster, who fired the ball past Cooper.

As the game entered its final minutes, QPR were reduced to 10 men after Kai Woollard received a straight red for bringing down Campbell and Blues held on to claim the victory.

"We started off really well and I was really pleased with the level of performance," said Blues’ Lead Professional Development Coach Steve Spooner, in his assessment of the match.

"I felt that at 1-0 we still needed another goal but unfortunately we conceded a soft goal with gave a little bit of impetus to QPR and we struggled to get a foot in the game, and they scored another goal before half-time.

"We had a chat around one or two things tactically at half-time and in the second-half we managed to put more pressure on them particularly from wide areas and scored another two goals.

"We'd been looking for a response to a very poor effort the previous Saturday when they'd lost 4-2 to Colchester and we got that on Saturday, as well as last
Tuesday in the win against Burnley.

"So, credit to them for taking that on board and showing some grit and determination in their last two performances, as well as scoring nine goals.

"They now have to maintain that standard right through until we finish."

Blues: Bradley-Hurst, Roberts, Gordon, Forrest, Kinina, Stirk, Thompson-Sommers (Walker, 61), Campbell, Baker, George, Traore (Miller, 66).
Subs (not used): Powell, Clayton, Craig.