Often Partisan

The Ascension of Storer – Port Vale reflections

Birmingham City returned to winning ways in pre-season with a 2-0 victory over Port Vale last night. Goals from Jack Storer and Paul Caddis ensured that Blues didn’t pay the price for another pedestrian start.

For long periods, the game was reminiscent of recent fixtures against Hibs and Shrewsbury with the Blues team unable to get out of first gear and create chances. However that all turned around on the 62 minute mark with the introduction of three subs – Josh Cogley, Reece Brown and Jack Storer. While the workrate of Cogley and the invention of Brown were pleasing on the eye it was Storer who really took the game by the scruff of the neck.

Within 20 seconds of coming on the 18-year-old striker had a chance on goal and it was inevitable that it would be the former Stevenage forward who would break the deadlock. He was lucky to be on the pitch when he did however, having taken out a Port Vale defender with a two footed lunge that sparked a 20-man brawl in the corner. A shrinking violet, Storer isn’t.

His goal was a moment of simple elegance; James Vaughan’s dinked cross from the near post found Storer a few yards out and he headed home in front of the Blues faithful who had made the trip to Burslem. Gary Rowett echoed the same comments I’d made on twitter after the game – Storer’s all action game was going to get him goals and red cards and surely would be the making of a cult hero. Maybe not the second coming of TF – maybe more the second coming of Mick Harford – and that is a compliment in my book.

It was a niggly game; the ref was actually forced to get his cards out in the end as various players had ongoing spats on the pitch much to the derision of the home side. In fairness it was good to see; after such an insipid performance in Edinburgh I think the players needed to show Rowett they were up for it and David Davis in particular will have staked a good claim to be in the team come the opening day of the season.

The second Blues goal came from the spot; Clayton Donaldson was absolutely taken out by Remi Streete while trying to put his head onto the end of a cross and Paul Caddis made no mistake from 12 yards, tucking the ball into the corner.

As the PA gave the customary courtesies of thanking Rowett and the team for coming it was drowned out by boos from the home side; clearly the handbags on the pitch had got to them and like their players, they’d been wound up into insensibility by a few hard challenges and a bit of sneaky shirt pulling. Gamesmanship is an important part of the game and while it’s nice to talk about Corinthian ideals, I like to see a bit of bite in the middle of the park too.

It is only a pre-season friendly but I think we’ve seen the ascension of Jack Storer to at least third choice striker; possibly even second choice until a new striker comes in. With five in pre-season he’s done well, and clearly vindicated Richard Beale’s insistence that Blues should give him a contract. Provided he keeps his nose clean off the pitch, Storer will get a longer deal – something I understand the former Baverstock pupil is desperate for.

On a disappointing side note, I’ve disabled comments on OP for a while. Having seen people bickering in the comments once again – I’m looking at you Dave Mann and Littleblue –  I’ve turned them off as I have no desire to be a playground referee. I understand that this may make some people unhappy but I have consistently warned people that I might do this; maybe now people will listen.

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