Often Partisan

Tough Draw for Blues Development Squad

A scrambled goal from Papa Bouba Diop rescued a point for Blues Development Squad against Barnsley at the Wast Hills training ground yesterday. Barnsley took the lead late in the first half through Jordan Clark before Diop’s effort on the stroke of half time levelled things up.

As matches go, it wasn’t much of a spectacle as both sides struggled to hold onto possession for any length of time and proper chances on goal were few and far between. Misplaced passes and miscued challenges were the order of the day as a fairly strong Blues DS lineup couldn’t get to grips with the youthful pressing and aggression from the Tykes.

The Barnsley goal came after some good work down their left saw Danny Rose (not the Spurs one) get to the byline and drill in a low cross which Jordan Clark was able to deflect past sub keeper Nick Townsend into the bottom right corner of the Blues goal. However, Blues managed to equalise in first half injury time much to the consternation of the hosts when a free kick from the left side led to a goalmouth scramble and Diop finished it, forcing the ball home from close range – although there seemed to be some protests from the Barnsley players as to whether the ball had crossed the line.

The game was a good chance for Nathan Redmond to show the first team what they were missing and sadly the teenage forward struggled throughout. Redmond started the game in a free role just behind lone striker Reece Hales but he struggled to get involved as the Blues midfield quartet of Callum Reilly, Diop, Eddy Gnahoré and Morgaro Gomis couldn’t get anything going and after about 20 minutes Richard Beale reorganised, playing Redmond as an orthodox right-winger in a 4-5-1 with Reilly going wide left.

It’s a bit frightening what’s happened to Redmond. In years gone by he would stand out in these games with his lightning pace, his mesmeric feet and his lack of fear in taking on any full-back. Whilst there is no doubt that Redmond has become physically stronger and thus doesn’t get pushed off the ball like he used to there doesn’t seem to be that zip or vitality in his play at the moment; whether this is a lack of confidence or something else I don’t know. However, if he is to regain his star status he needs rediscover that spark he had when he first broke into the team or he could well find his stay on the sidelines much longer than he would want.

I’ve wondered if Diop would be a better option than Mullins in past weeks but on the evidence of this game I have to say he isn’t. Whilst Diop undoubtedly broke up some play, and tried to push forwards he looked cumbersome, got caught in possession and was lucky not to be red-carded as his tackling gradually grew more agricultural as the game wore on. If he’s to be a physical presence in the Championship I’d expect him to boss games against young pros with his experience and his size but he doesn’t do that.

Mitch Hancox started the game in an unfamiliar centre back position and to be fair, it didn’t suit him at all. In absolute fairness to Mitch he did everything he could to play his position properly but you could see him champing at the bit to get forwards, to run with the ball and attack Barnsley – it was like trying to hold back a terrier in a field full of rabbits, it was almost killing Mitch to not get forwards. He got the chance in the second half as Gnahoré went off for Higgins allowing the diminutive full back to push forwards to left midfield. Whilst Mitch tweeted post-match that it was his worst game of the season it’s worth pointing out that on 91 minutes with everyone else almost given up, Hancox was the one making an 80 yard break from a corner to try to win it for Blues.

One player who impressed me again was Reece Hales. The seventeen year old might not have scored but it was only the thickness of the post that prevented that with Hales having beaten Lidaveicis all ends up in Barnsley goal with a 25 yard blockbuster on 52 minutes. He showed that despite his tender years he’s got the physical presence to win the ball, pace to try to get on to the end of crosses and but for want of some better service may well have troubled the scorers. It was a good performance from the kid and there were certainly some interested mutterings from some of the visiting scouts.

After the 4-1 win over Continental Star this was a much more workmanlike performance. It lacked a bit of guile, a bit of inventiveness and a moment of magic but it certainly had lots of spirit and aggression – all of which is a good education for life in professional football.


David Lucas (Nick Townsend), Will Packwood, Ben Gordon, Papa Bouba Diop, Emmit Delfouneso, Mitchell Hancox, Callum Reilly, Eddy Gnahoré (Ryan Higgins), Reece Hales (Marcel Henry-Francis), Nathan Redmond, Morgaro Gomis.

Subs not used: Josh Hawker, Jack Deaman

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18 Responses to “Tough Draw for Blues Development Squad”

  • RUPERT says:

    Are these matches advertised and open for spectators at Wast Hills ? I would like to go and watch one, as I work evenings I could fit in some home games.

  • Grizzly says:

    Do Gomis or Gnahore look like they could replace Mullins?

    • almajir says:

      Gomis looked fairly tidy without being unspectacular. However, I think it’s very unlikely he’ll be in the team again. Gnahoré has some great touches but he’s still very raw and is prone to losing the ball from trying to do to much.

  • BluenoseDownunder says:

    Interested to read your comments on Redmond, Almajir. I was keen to find out why he had dropped of the radar. Such a talented young bloke, i wonder, if as you suggested if it’s just a confidence thing or if there is something else?

  • daddybluenose says:

    hi al
    just wondering how did packwood get on is he looking like he could fit in alongside davis to give us a bit more pace inthe back line?

    • almajir says:

      Packwood started at right back and didn’t look right there – his distribution wasn’t that good and he’s not that quick.

      At centre half he was steadier and showed more skill. He’s pacier than Caldwell and Ibanez – but then again so am I in all fairness. Packwood isn’t a particularly quick player.

  • andy says:

    I dont know how true reports are but i read that Redmond could not agree a new contract with Blues and with everything up in the air at the club, finds himself and Butland linked with a move in January. It can only unsettle the kid.

  • swissjonny says:

    If we can get a good bid for Nathan in January we should take it.Frankly we can live without him and need to capitalize on his value to stay afloat.From his point of view he needs to move on as we are not the right club to bring on flair players at the moment.Life is short and the career of a pro footballer is over in a flash.Nathan needs to go to a bigger club who can afford the luxury of such a player and have the back room team in place to really get him going.Sad but true.An amicable and mutually profitable parting of the ways is called for.

  • superbeau says:

    Thanks for the report Almajir, just out of interest do they produce a programme for these games?


  • skareggae72 says:

    Talking of one of our youth products,i notice Jack Butland linked with Waste Ham this morning for £5m,so his fee has fallen by £1m this season?,& i wonder if hammers/G/S now get priority due to the player loans they have given us this season?

  • tamuffblue says:

    Everything sellable will be sold in January thanx to the goddam mess in Hong Kong – I never believed there was ever a 6mill bid from the mighty saints – more like 2 mill on the table and the rest in installments over a ridiculess period like 5 years – the vultures will be hovering and along with the help of the cockney press ie daily mail today Liverpool looking at cut price Butland we will be under immense pressure from the bank so enjoy Butland – Davies – Redmond – King while we can – A very sad bleak and uninspiring view I know but facts are facts – all roads lead to Hong Kong

  • andy says:

    There certainly wont be any “eye popping” bids for players come January unless new owners are in place, the awful thing about all this is that we all just have to sit and wait to see what happens.

  • tamuffblue says:

    theres none so blind as them that wont see – Alex T

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Redmond hasn’t been the same since Clark lambasted him for that misplaced pass. I can’t see anyone coming in for him in January. Butland, Davies and King are the most saleable products we have. On the plus side Hancox sounds like he’s chomping at the bit for first team inclusion. Packwood needs to play in Mullins role.

  • BluenoseDownunder says:

    it’s ok blasting Redmond for making a mistake but it’s the club (coaches) responsibility to make sure he learns from the mistake and gets back in the 1st team. Like it or not we will need to sell some of these young talents and we wont get value for them if they spend their time playing at Wast Hills

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