Report: Blues Under-23s 5 Charlton Athletic Under-23s 2

Steve Spooner's side sit in third with two games to play.



In torrid first-half conditions at the St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium, Quintino Junior had put the visitors in front with a deft touch at the near post only for Adan George to draw Blues level with a prodded finish into the bottom corner.

Ryan Burke’s stunner was cancelled out by Freddy Barton’s volley early in the second period before a quickfire double from Keyendrah Simmonds and Caolan Boyd-Munce put daylight between the two sides.

George added his second with a well-placed finish in added time in what was a ruthless second-half showing by play-off chasing Blues.

Andres Prieto had earlier denied Wassim Aouchria from the spot following Joe Redmond’s mistimed challenge.

The victory propels Steve Spooner’s side up to third in the PDL North, level on points with second placed Nottingham Forest having played a game less.

A torrential downpour added to what was a fast paced affair with both sides guilty of gifting away possession in the opening exchanges.

Addicks defender Charlie Baker darted to the near post to head over the first chance of the game before Wassim Aouachria powered down the outside of Geraldo Bajrami and fired low across goal. Andres Prieto was equal to the effort but it was the visitors who were asking all the early questions.

Their bright start was rewarded ten minutes in when Joe Redmond was adjudged to have upended Johl Powell inside the box.

Freddy Barton fed Powell inside a crowded penalty area and Prieto could only palm the ball back to the feet of the Charlton man after his initial strike proved too fierce to handle. Redmond lunged in to prevent the rebound but referee Thomas Kirk deemed the challenge to be a late one. Aouachria trotted up to take the spot-kick but his side-foot effort was comfortably saved by Prieto down to his right.

Blues then began to settle into the game and when Boyd-Munce shifted the ball out to Keyendrah Simmonds on right, the Blues forward had one thought in his mind. The former City youngster dropped a shoulder to drift inside and curled a low effort towards the far corner. The ball bounced awkwardly in front of Charlton keeper Nathan Harness but Blues failed to capitalise on his mishandling.

Blues went close again moments later. Alfie Chang robbed the ball on halfway and slid a pass down the right channel to Adan George. The Blues striker opted the lift the ball over the onrushing Harness but could only watch his effort drift agonisingly wide.

As Blues went in search of an opening goal, the South-Londoners delivered a hammer blow.

Quitino Junior stole a march on Geraldo Bajrami, bursting across the front of the Blues defender to get on the end of Charles Clayden’s low cross, sending his deft touch inside the near post to put the visitors in front.

There was time for Spooner’s side to threaten before the break as a topsy-turvy encounter began to unravel. Chang’s rasping shot skidded off the soaked surface, Harness could only spill but Remi Walker’s follow up was blocked by a combination of flying red shirts.

Blues weren’t to be denied for much longer, and when Boyd-Munce played an inch perfect through ball to George on the stroke of half-time, all that was left for the powerful forward to do was prod the ball beyond Harness and into the bottom corner.

The clouds had emptied in time for the second half and some calmer weather allowed for both sides to get the ball down.

It would be a half to remember for Spooner’s Blues.

Josh Williams showcased some electric footwork to dance past two defenders before teeing up George to slice his effort into the side netting. And Blues were dancing again moments later when Ryan Burke blasted the hosts in front.

Kyle Hurst, imitating Williams’ earlier trick, evaded a challenge on the left with some neat touches and offloaded the ball to Burke in a more advanced position.

The Irishman let the ball roll across his body before firing powerfully across goal and into the corner of the net for his fourth in five games.

Blues looked more controlled in the second period and broke through Charlton’s high press with some incisive forward passing. Boyd-Munce, on his second outing following a spell on the sidelines, drove at the heart of the Charlton backline on the hour mark but blazed his rasping drive well over.

As the game opened up, Kiki Simmonds was eager to get in on the act but after his neat turn inside the box, he could only fire straight into the midriff of Harness.

It was Spooner’s side who looked the more likely but with just fifteen minutes remaining and against the run of play, parity was restored.

Williams was dispossessed when attempting to turn away from Aouachria and when Powell’s header was flicked on at the near post, Barton didn’t have to break strike to volley home the equaliser.

The teams were level for just three minutes as Blues put together the goal of the game. A sweeping move, starting with Prieto and involving six outfield players, ended with Boyd-Munce sliding a weighted pass through to Simmonds who then dinked the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper.

Blues were now in the groove and having set-up the third, it was Boyd-Munce’s turn to add his name to the scoresheet, thanks in no small part to a sizeable deflection.

The Northern-Irish midfielder, who dominated as the game progressed, found himself out on the right and after shifting the ball onto his favoured left-foot, he shaped an effort towards the far corner which was diverted into the middle of the goal, wrong-footing Harness in the process.

Blues chalked up a fifth in added time. Boyd-Munce was again involved turning beautifully away from his marker on halfway and feeding George who steadied himself before sidefooting into the corner for his second of the night.

Spooner’s side now travel to Crewe Alexandra on Thursday afternoon (1.00pm), aiming to break into the top two ahead of the final round of fixtures on 10 May.

Blues: Prieto, Williams, Redmond, Bajrami, Burke, Walker (Oakley 91), Boyd-Munce, George, Chang, Simmonds, Hurst (Reid 79)

Substitutes not used:  Triallist, Hall, Soldevila,

Charlton Athletic: Harness, Barton, Oguntayo (Vega 30), Henry, Barker, Mingi, Quintino Junior (Allsopp 42), Vennings, Aouachria, Powell, Clayden

Substitutes not used: Harvey, Reilly