The right characteristics on show from Blues Under-23s – Beale

Geraldo Bajrami and Joe Redmond
Geraldo Bajrami and Joe Redmond

The most important thing is performance from these young players and get to a stage whereby they can affect the First Team.

Richard Beale

Blues Under-23s kept their Premier League Cup qualification hopes alive with a first win in the competition.

It was a resounding 4-0 victory at Colchester United Under-23s in Group G, after successive defeats to Fulham and Reading to begin the campaign.

Kyle McFarlane (two), Ryan Stirk and Tommy Anderson scored the goals but it was a real all-round effort from the side that did the trick.

“The lads worked really, really hard,” said Senior Professional Development Coach Beale.

“They were aggressive, they were disciplined, they showed lots of concentration against a team that has numerous good individual players and are a threat.

“They had to dig in at times as well. As the game opened up we scored twice towards the end which makes the scoreline look a little easier than it was.

Blues mixed their style of play up to good effect.

“We went quite long early on, which sort of backed them off a little bit, which gave us more space to play in.

“The lads made some good decisions in when to go long and when not to go long, when to counter and when to keep it.

“I was really pleased and the main ingredient was the work rate and digging in for each other, showing the characteristics of the type of people we want at the Football Club.”

McFarlane looked lively and on both occasions burst through on goal to finish. He's up to 10 now in league and cup.

“His pace, it’s a threat obviously at this level,” said Beale. “I was pleased he scored a couple of goals because he works really, really hard for the team. It was nice he got a reward for that.”

Blues defence consisted of second year scholars Ben Forrest and Ryan Burke at full-back (both aged 18), and centre-halves Geraldo Bajrami and Joe Redmond (first year professionals, aged 19 and 18 respectively).

Behind them was 19-year-old goalkeeper Michael Luyambula, who Blues brought in from Borussia Dortmund initially on trial in pre-season.

Said Beale: “It was great we kept a clean sheet. That was nice for Michael, who has done really well since he has come in, and the whole defence – the whole team, in fact.

“I guess it is always extra special for the defenders, though, when a clean sheet is kept. And that was a reflection for that hard work and discipline I mentioned.”

Halfway through Group G, Reading sit atop with three straight wins. Blues are on the heels of second place Fulham.

“It’s a good competition,” said Beale. “You get the opportunities to play against teams from other categories around the country.

“It gives you quality games, competitive games and if you get out the group stage it’s knockout football and it’s always nice to play knockout football, competitive football.

“The boys showed their mettle and got the three points so hopefully we can keep his up and go through.”

Blues return to PDL action on Saturday. They face Nottingham Forest Under-23s at Solihull Moors (11am kick-off).

Blues have returned some fine results in the league this season and are currently sitting in fourth spot, only three points off the top of the North section.

“The most important thing is performance from these young players and get to a stage whereby they can affect the First Team.

“Obviously a big part of that is teaching them to be winners and be really competitive because without that your technical and tactical work is irrelevant, really.

“The lads have done well at that this season and have won a few games along the way, which is superb.

“We’re looking forward to another tough one Saturday at Solihull Moors against Nottingham Forest, who are always a decent outfit.”