We were competitive but I just thought the boys could have shown just a little bit more hunger towards getting that equaliser.Steve Spooner
Blues were more than a match for their Premier League hosts in today's pre-season friendly, but came away narrowly defeated 2-1 on sunny afternoon in the north-west.
The visitors missed a first-half penalty and created other good openings, although Spooner thought his players could have shown a little bit more urgency to ensure their efforts brought a reward.
A mix-up in defence and an unstoppable long-range shot left Blues chasing the game by half-time.
Kane Thompson-Sommers converted from the spot after the break and Spooner’s youngsters pushed for a leveller as the minutes ticked away.
“It was a very good performance but I thought we could have won it,” said Spooner, as he spoke to bcfc.com afterwards, flanked by new Under-23s Head Coach Xavi Calm.
“I know it’s only pre-season, but you’re disappointed to come away with a loss.
“We were competitive but I just thought the boys could have shown just a little bit more hunger towards getting that equaliser.
“We said at half-time that although they were winning, we’d had the better chances.
“We’d got in through our wing-backs and caused them some problems with that, but just lacked that killer instinct in front of goal.”
Blues Under-23s again employed a 3-4-2-1 formation, although there was a subtle change made by the coaching staff mid-match to prevent the home side from dominating possession.
“We got some joy attacking, but when they had the ball they looked like they could get through us, so we changed the shape and got one on their holding midfielder which stopped them controlling the game for so long.
“And then we created more periods of sustained pressure, which was the idea behind it. So to go in 2-0 down, conceding a sloppy goal right on half-time, was disappointing.
“But I would say for probably 60 per cent of the game we were the better team.”
Spooner added: “We keep on looking for small increments of progression – and we’re progressing. We know they can play technically, but tactically we’re still a little naïve and also in terms of professionalism.
“We’re a little bit too soft. The players need a stronger mentality and determination, but it’s only in pre-season. They had all those qualities last year. When I watched the Under-23s last season, they had desire and hunger.
“But we’re still tweaking things and working on things tactically, changing the team around and looking at players in different positions.”