Report: Blues Under-23s 3-2 WBA Under-23s

Report: Blues Under-23s 3-2 WBA Under-23s

24 January 2022

Blues took all three points in a thrilling encounter as Steve Spooner’s youngsters beat local rivals West Brom 3-2 on Monday afternoon in the Premier League 2.

Despite falling behind in the first-half, Blues twice scored through Leo Dos Reis in the second-half, before Owen Windsor’s 75th minute strike looked set to see the game end in a draw.

But Oriol Soldevila’s late winner secured all three points for the home side, who moved off the foot of the table with the result.

The West Brom starting eleven featured senior pros Kenneth Zohore and Dara O’Shea – the latter getting his first minutes in almost five months after sustaining a fractured ankle on international duty with Ireland in September.

Blues, playing with a flat back four started well. The pacy Josh Williams had an early opportunity as he drove forward from defence. After reaching the touchline, his cross dropped over the head of Alex Palmer in the Baggies goal, with the onrushing Renedi Masumpu just unable to make contact at the back post.

At the other end, former Cardiff City forward Kenneth Zohore fired into the side-netting as the game began to open up.

A lovely footballing move saw Blues force another chance just shy of the fifteen-minute mark. Masampu, Jordi Govea and Leo Dos Reis linked up well on the left before midfield anchor Brandon Khela stung the gloves of Palmer with a driven effort from 30 yards.

Dos Reis was beginning to influence the game more and more, and Blues looked destined to open the scoring when the Spaniard’s clever pass released Jobe Bellingham, whose shot just floated over the crossbar.

The local battle had the feel of just that and became increasingly physical as the half went on.

But halfway through the opening 45, the visitors would take the lead against the run of play. Rayhaan Tulloch found space on the edge of the Blues penalty area and his right-footed effort flew across the returning Jeacock and into the net.

There was a break in play after the opener as fourth official Benjamin Williamson was replaced by fourth official Andrew Ellis through injury, with the game resuming several minutes later.

Blues had chances through Remi Walker and Soldevila just before the interval – both efforts saved by the busy Palmer.

The Baggies enjoyed the brighter start after the break, goalscorer Tulloch forcing Jeacock into a smart stop down to his right early-on, after weaving down the left-hand side.

But Blues weathered the early storm and got their deserved goal on 56 minutes. The influential Brandon Khela saw a shot on the edge of the box deflected straight into the path of Dos Reis who was quickest to the rebound.

And just like London buses a second quickly followed for Blues two minutes after the equaliser. Soldevila found space on the edge of the area and played a defence-splitting pass to his Spanish counterpart, who made no mistake despite being forced slightly wide as he finished.

Blues were dominating and buoyed by their two goals, could have added a third when substitute Kyle Hurst peeled away at the back post, only to find his effort from five yards blocked by Ethan Ingram with the goal gaping.

But the visitors dug in and drew level 15 minutes before full-time. A free-flowing move saw Owen Windsor break from midfield, with the 20-year-old making no mistake as he finished past the stranded Jeacock.

Five minutes from time, the game would take one final turn. Soldevila, who had been at the heart of a lot of Blues’ good work throughout the game was played in down the right, making no mistake with the onrushing Palmer powerless as the Spaniard finished with conviction.

Blues: Zack Jeacock, Josh Williams, Jordi Govea (Rico Patterson, 45), Brandon Khela, Tate Campbell (Rico Browne, 58) , Mitch Roberts ©, Oriol Soldevila, Remi Walker, Leo Dos Reis, Jobe Bellingham, (Kyle Hurst, 58), Renedi Masampu. 

Bookings: Govea, 45+5. 

Subs not used: Oliver Basey, Kieran Wakefield.

West Brom: Alex Palmer, Ethan Ingram, Josh Shaw, Dara O’Shea (Saul Shotton, 45), Triallist, Zac Ashworth, Owen Windsor, Aurio Teixeira, Ken Zohore,Toby King, Rayhan Tulloch (Modou Faal, 71).

Bookings: Triallist, 36. Windsor, 45.

Subs not used: Jamie Soule, Mac Chisholm, Jesse Wangusi.