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Big Win For Young Blues – Professional Development League Report vs Huddersfield Town

A cold St Andrews saw Birmingham City’s development squad comprehensively beat Huddersfield Town in their first home fixture of the Premier Development League. Blues however had a man of the match performance from goalkeeper Nick Townsend to thank as he made several saves to keep the Terriers out in the second half before Akwasi Asante made it safe.

In fairness to Huddersfield the scoreline flattered the hosts somewhat, as for large periods the Terriers had the ball and they had plenty of chances to score but were thwarted by an inspired performance by the teenage keeper.

The Blues line up included three trialists – striker Matt Rickard who had spent time recently in America with the University of Michigan Wolverines, left sided Aaron Tumwa who was most recently with Harrow Borough and on the bench Stephan Hamilton-Forbes who is a midfielder also recently with Harrow Borough.

The match started brightly with chances at either end and Blues took the lead in the eighth minute when Hancox found Tumwa in acres of space on the left hand side of the area and the trialist buried the ball past Alinson in the Huddersfield goal.

Huddersfield had their chances however with captain Jordan Sinnott hitting the side netting when clean through and Emmit Delfouneso making an important block challenge on Chris Atkinson to prevent the midfielder tapping home.

As the game progressed it started to turn a bit scrappy as both sides looked to impose themselves on the ball. Delfouneso had the best of the chances with a shot at the near post from a Callum Reilly corner but it was easily stopped by the keeper.

Huddersfield had a chance to level when Dale Hopson released Jordan Sinnott but Nick Townsend saved smartly to preserve Blues’ lead.

Josh Hawker then tried his luck from just outside the area but his tame shot was easily saved.

Blues increased their lead on 39 minutes when Jack Deaman’s left wing corner was flicked on by Josh Hawker and Akwasi Asante turned it home from two yards at the back stick. Whilst it was a well worked corner the Huddersfield staff won’t be pleased with how much room Asante had to stick it in the net.

Five minutes later Blues made it 3-0 when Hawker picked up a cleared Tumwa cross on the right before crossing it back in for Rickard to steer home from ten yards. Once again the Blues striker was in acres of space and the goal seemed almost inevitable as soon as the cross came in.

However Huddersfield pulled one back in first half injury time to make it 3-1 when Tom Clark rose highest to head home Jordan Sinnott’s corner.

HT Blues Development Squad 3 – 1 Huddersfield Town Development Squad

Huddersfield came straight out of the blocks in the second half an only a smart reflex save by Townsend from Matt Crooks prevented the Terriers from reducing the deficit further on 47 minutes.

Jimmy Spencer was next to test Nick Townsend from range but once again the young keeper was easily up to the save. However, Huddersfield were not somewhat in the ascendancy and Blues were being pegged back in their own half.

Nick Townsend was called into action again in the 59th minute when he saved impressively from Chris Atkinson and then again when Jimmy Spencer was put through to the exasperation of the Huddersfield striker.

Blues did manage to work one good opening when a bustling run from Asante found Higgins wide and after his cross was blocked his follow-up shot was just wide of the far post.

Huddersfield wasted their best of the game on 63 minutes when Townsend once again saved impressively, this time from Dale Hopson and Crooks inexplicably clipped the rebound over the bar from no more than 8 yards with the goal gaping.

The Huddersfield players’ frustration seemed to be getting to them as the shouts of exasperation got louder and they started giving away fouls as Blues pressed looking for a fourth. Asante wasted a good free kick on 70 minutes drilling it into the wall whilst Reilly’s whipped left footed free kick a minute later was headed behind by the Huddersfield defence as it viciously swung in.

Huddersfield were nearly gifted a goal on 74 as a hopeful punt forwards dropped between the Blues back line and the keeper, meaning Townsend had to rush out of his area to stop the advancing Spencer from scoring. As they came together Spencer clipped it over the keeper’s head but it mercifully bounced over the angle of the post and the bar as Deaman gratefully watched.

Asante made it 4-1 on 86 minutes after being played in by Ryan Higgins, bustling past a defender before slotting home from close range. Asante showed his body strength that has marked him out as a potential for the first team in the future, easily keeping the defender off the ball to fashion the chance.

Team:
Nick Townsend, Ryan Higgins, Mitchell Hancox (c), Brice Ntambwe (Adams 63), Emmitt Delfouneso (Nathaniel Kelly), Jack Deaman, Callum Reilly, Josh Hawker, Akwasi Asante, Matthew Rickard, Aaron Tumwa (Hamilton-Forbes 58)

Attendance – 105

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