Birmingham City’s Under-18 team fought back from a two goal deficit to record an impressive 3-2 victory over Bolton Wanderers at the Eddie Davies Football Academy on Saturday.
Enock Elumba’s brace gave the Trotters a 2-0 lead before goals from Matty Timms, Ronan Hale and Khaellem Bailey secured a first win in four games for Steve Spooner’s side in the Professional Development League 2.
“I thought we were excellent today,” Spooner told LFE. “It was disappointing to be 2-0 down but the players showed great character to come back.
“We were creating chances. We were playing a lot of good football and getting in behind and it was just a case of finishing correctly and a little bit of fortune at times which you need. I would say over 90 minutes this is probably our best performance of the season.”
The visitors made a promising start but fell behind against the run of play after ten minutes. An error from Jack Challis on the halfway line was pounced upon by Elumba, who produced a terrific solo run into the Blues penalty area which ended with a fine left-foot finish into the bottom right corner.
Birmingham responded immediately and Hale had an effort cleared off the line by Harry Brockbank after Bailey had initially been thwarted by keeper Will Jaaskelainen. The dangerous duo combined again moments later but this time Hale was adjudged offside as he finished off Bailey’s clever flick.
Beryly Lubala and Timms both had great chances from inside the six-yard box to equalise, but neither could convert as Bolton held on to lead 1-0 at the break.
The Blues continued to dominate after the restart and wasted another opening when Corey O’Keeffe, who found himself in acres of space after surging run from right-back, blasted a left-foot shot high and wide.
And the Blues were again punished. Alex Honeyball strode out of defence for Bolton and picked out Elumba, who shifted inside from the left and shot left-footed beyond the grasp of keeper Max Beardmore to double the advantage.
That should have been that but to their credit the visitors rallied. Timms, a livewire throughout, found the top corner from 30-yards out to reduce the arrears.
Sensing an equaliser was possible, The Blues piled on the pressure and restored parity in the 70th minute. Jordan Potter played in Hale who coolly slotted the ball past Jaaskelainen.
Birmingham’s good work was almost undone though when Matthew Fearnley stabbed over from point blank range after Cole Lonsdale’s cross had been spilled by Beardmore. And less than a minute later, the Blues ruthlessly punished that failure to complete the turnaround. Porter again provided the assist but this time it was Bailey who capitalised to shoot low in to the left corner.
“We scored two good goals but I think on the balance of play Birmingham were the better team,” Bolton youth coach David Lee said. “They created a few more chances than us and scored the goals and goals change games.”
“We’ve played several games this season and Birmingham have probably given us the best test. Individually they were decent and they also had a work ethic about them and a pattern of play where we found it difficult to play against them.
“Being perfectly honest they are the best team we’ve faced this season,” Lee added.