Often Partisan

Who is Robert Stambolziev? (Worcester City v Birmingham City review)

A sunny day in Worcester saw the first game of the 2011/12 season for Birmingham City, as they sent out a very youthful XI to take on the Faithfuls at St George’s Lane. I made the trip along with Andy (head honcho at www.smallheathalliance.com) to check out our young guns.

Worcester’s ground is very much a throwback to the fifties; a grand total of five stands including a covered terrace known as “the Shed”, which you can see in the upper right of the picture above. However, Worcester won’t remain at St George’s Lane long; they’re moving to a new ground having sold this one for housing development. The clubhouse was having a “real ale festival” when we arrived, and Andy and I sampled a couple of pints of cider poured from containers that looked like they used to contain turpentine. It has to be said, the cider was absolute loopy juice and I’m glad I stuck to just the one.

Aussie trialist Robert Stambolziev lined up on the left hand side despite the club denying we’d taken him on trial not more than a couple of hours before. Will Packwood played a holding role behind the central two of Gnahore and Ntambwe, and the defence contained young pro Luke Hubbins and Mitchell Hancox at left back, who I’ve picked out before as a talent. Between the sticks was Sam Beasant, formerly of the Glenn Hoddle Academy.

The game in itself was scrappy; lots of possession in the middle of the park for Blues but not enough chances in front of goal – something eerily similar to the majority of last season. Worcester had a few chances, but Beasant between the sticks was capable and the fullbacks in particular excelled in making good challenges in difficult places. Packwood played very well in the middle, controlling the play and trying to get the ball towards Grier and Stambolziev on the wings to build attacks.

The cider clearly got me, because although I know Taylor Morgan scored for Blues I can’t really tell you that much about the goal; there was some good interplay down the right, Morgan was played in and he slotted home past the keeper. Worcester equalised before half time with a Tom Thorley free kick. The second half was scrappier than the first, as a plethora of substitutions were made by both sides. Gnahore went close with a 35 yard blockbuster of a free kick that was tipped away by the Worcester sub keeper Sargeant, and Hancox nicked a ball of the head of a Worcester attacker to help keep things level. The match finished 1-1, and in reflection it was a fair result.

Friendly games are never really about the results; it’s more about how players play, and fitness. The fact a team made of up of u18 players in the main held a full strength Conference North team to a draw should tell you that the kids are of a decent standard; Hancox again impressed for me, as did Hubbins in an unfamiliar right back role and the midfield trio of Packwood, Gnahore and Ntambwe. I couldn’t say that they’re ready to be thrown into first team action, but there is definitely enough potential that they should be knocking the door soon and be able to give cover on the bench in times of injury.

Team (4-1-4-1) Sam Beasant; Luke Hubbins, Mitchell Hancox, Will Packwood, Jack Deaman, Graham Hutchison, Robert Stambolziev, Brice Ntambwe, Taylor Morgan, Eddy Gnahore, Akil Grier. Bench Callum Riley, Leon Newell, Reece Hales, Nick Townsend

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2 Responses to “Who is Robert Stambolziev? (Worcester City v Birmingham City review)”

  • bangkokblue says:

    Nice match report mate, great blog as always but I’m not sure you’ve answered your own question – just who is Robert Stambolziev?! (Other than ‘an aussie trialist’)

    • almajir says:

      He’s an Aussie/Macedonian left midfielder/left winger on trial from Panathinaikos – he used to play for BCFC (Bristol City FC that is).

      Looked decidedly average

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