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Who’s next on the production line? Development Squad report
Birmingham City drew 2-2 in the Professional Development League 2 game with Bolton Wanderers this afternoon. Goals from Andy Shinnie and Emmanuel Mbende looked to have won it for the hosts but a late equaliser from Quade Taylor ensured the visitors took a share of the spoils.
The game was not without controversy; on what was a heavy and muddy pitch tackles were fair flying in and the ref seemed content to let many go. However, a rash challenge by Charlee Adams on Channing Campbell-Young just before half time was one too many and the Bolton man wildly retaliated. This led to an unseemly pushing and shoving match involving nearly all the outfield players before the ref showed red cards to Campbell-Young and Charlie Cooper of Blues.
On a day when Demarai Gray left the club for pastures anew it was interesting to see who could be potentially the next one off the production line. Adams certainly put a case forward that it might be him with a midfield display that looked competent and assured; always ready to receive the ball, to look for the right pass to get the attack going and to drive forward to support the front four with the ball in the final third. I’m not sure if Reece Brown was held back due to injury or something else but I think he’s in danger of being overtaken by another player and being pushed further down the midfield pecking order.
Shane Lowry and Mbende both stood out for Blues. Despite conceding a free-kick early on that led to the first goal, Mbende showed that he has got some real talent despite being an absolute unit of a player. He seemed as happy to play a cultured pass to a midfielder or direct to the front as he was to thump a clearing header into the opposition half. His goal came following a corner, with the ball being sent back in by Lowry he struck home from close range, letting out a roar of jubilation as the ball hit the back of the net.
With Lowry’s experience I’d expect him to be able to handle this level of football but even so, he looked calm and assured on what must have been a difficult pitch to play on. He made a crunching tackle in the first half to prevent a certain goal without even hinting at giving away a penalty; his distribution set up various attacks as he swept the ball diagonally across the pitch to the wingers Montell Moore and Kyle McFarlane.
Up front, it wasn’t Nicolai Brock-Madsen’s day. I counted seven chances where he could have scored, only to see the keeper make regulation saves. Indeed, at one point it looked like the only way he would score would be dumb luck when a Josh Cogley ball across the box rebounded off Brock’s shins only to be stopped on the line by a Bolton defender. If I was being positive I’d say he took up good positions and he made the right runs – but he needs to be stronger, more assertive and yes, he needs a bit of luck too.
Trialist Montell Moore played an hour and I didn’t see much that suggested he’d be asked to play again for the development squad. He did pass the ball to Shinnie for the first goal but it was the Scot who created the chance for himself before slotting the ball home. His body language when he trudged off after being subbed for Noe Baba spoke volumes.
Connal Trueman, Josh Cogley, Dom Bernard, Charlee Adams, Emmanuel Mbende, Shane Lowry, Montell Moore (Noe Baba, 58), Charlie Cooper, Nicolai Brock-Madsen, Andrew Shinnie, Kyle McFarlane.
Subs not used: Alex Jones, Jake Weaver, Perry Cotton, Wes McDonald.