Often Partisan

Positives in Defeat: Reflections on Blues Development Squad v Coventry DS

Birmingham City’s development squad fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Coventry’s u21 side today at the Alan Higgs Centre in Coventry. The Blues u21 team took the lead early on through trialist Romeo Castelen but goals from Leon Lobjolt and Adam Barton in the second half secured the win for the young Sky Blues.

Ordinarily, I’d write a match report but owing to a couple of public transport issues and the fact I have the directional sense of a blind mole at times I didn’t make it to the game until it was about 20 minutes old – and consequently missed the Blues goal. With this in mind I thought it might be fairer if instead of giving a report of the game it would be better to talk about who stood out and how the young Blues set up looks.

Obviously, the person everyone was talking about was the 29 year old Dutch winger Castelen. Formerly with Hamburger SV, the Suriname-born wideman has ten international caps for the Netherlands but a horrific run of injuries has seen him make just 17 appearances in five seasons for the first team. According to those who were watching he took his goal well; otherwise he didn’t particularly stand out as being brilliant or awful to me, but I think there was enough there to at least have another look. I understand that there isn’t anything formal in place trialwise as they look at him and it will be a day to day basis of how long he is with the club.

One player who did stand out was young Mitch Hancox. In the second half particularly he seemed determined to do what he could to get goals for Blues. Playing as a left midfielder, he put in some teasing crosses and stung the palms of the Cov keeper on at least three occasions hitting shots from range. His attitude and work ethic stood out; always hungry for the ball, when he didn’t have it he was screaming for it and he was constantly looking to test the Sky Blues defence and to get into the box.

Ryan Higgins, who started the game at right-back before moving into right midfield when the subs were introduced had a similarly attacking performance. Like Hancox he’s happy to push on and get into and around the box and was unlucky not to do better with a volley from a Hancox cross just after the break. The full-back, who is on non-contract terms has impressed every time I’ve seen him and I think it’s possible to see just how much he’s come on since he first came to us from Everton.

I was also impressed by American youngster Will Packwood, who played at centre-half. He has grown massively as a player this year and he was very authoritative at the back, organising the backline and telling players where he wanted them for set pieces and the like. It’s good to see a player who can read the game in the manner Packwood was and can see where the gaps are forming and try to do something about it.

Whilst it was a defeat, it was a defeat that was hard on a Blues side that on another day would have buried the chances it created. What’s pleasing is that there are quite a few players now coming through the academy that look like they can possibly make the step up to the first team and there is actually some real talent in the academy. The reserve side will be playing in the Birmingham Senior Cup next Wednesday evening at Rushall Olympic’s ground and I honestly would say that if you can get there to watch, to do so as it’s probably the best crop of kids Blues have had for a while.

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12 Responses to “Positives in Defeat: Reflections on Blues Development Squad v Coventry DS”

  • Gnosall Dave says:

    I haven’t heard any coments concerning Gnahore since he returned from his long term injury. We had great hopes for him prior to his layoff. In your opinion has the injury robbed him of some of his potential or is he still a first-teamer of the future? Keep up the good work on your excellent articles.

    • almajir says:

      He played today for 60 odd minutes. Looked alright, fairly neat and his knee held up when it got crunched in a tackle. He needs games – to get back into the groove he was in pre-injury, and to get his head right to be able to play week in week out. That last step of mental drive is where a lot of young players fail.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Very pleasing to hear of Packwood’s attitude and obvious ability,!!. Likewise Mitch Hancox, — Do you consider that Hancox could possibly be worth a shot on the lefthand side with the 1st team, ?/.

    Gnahore, We all hope can make a steady recovery, [ and NOT become another Mutch ] who was never quite the same after his problems, — Though it seemed to be due to ” growing problems ” with him, !!!.

  • chris says:

    Jake Jervis on itv now playing for Tranmere in cup replay

  • chris says:

    Romeo Castelen has only played 22 times since 2007 (Wiki) – no thanks.
    29 years old and another right winger, welll we already have two of those or is one leaving shortly??
    We need a damn left winger for crying out loud and a striker now Lita has gone not another right midfielder.

  • Ed says:

    Just watched the 1st half of the Tranmere game, Jervis didn’t do very much, reminded me of Jerome, runs around a lot but achieves little.

  • poppa999 says:

    What time is Rushall match? afternoon or evening?

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Blues seem to be cornering the market in Right-Wingers….Burke,Redmond,Ambose and now Castelen. All we need now is Stanley Matthews!!!

  • jazzzy786 says:

    I think Hancox and Packwood are good enough for the first team. Do you think Higgins can make the step up? How long is Asante out for and can we recall Jervis?

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