Oxford United were beaten by the Blues this afternoon as Birmingham City won 2-0 at Grenoble Road through first half goals from David Davis and Che Adams.
Facing Championship opposition for the fourth time in a row, United went behind after ten minutes when a flick from Adams sent Davis into space and he rounded keeper Scott Shearer before applying a simple finish.
Shearer, playing in place of Simon Eastwood who suffered a cut leg in Wednesday night’s game against Brentford, was the less busy keeper for the first half hour with opposite number David Stockdale having to save a Rob Hall free kick and then make a much more impressive save from a Wes Thomas header after 17 minutes, after the ex-Blues striker threw himself at a wicked Marvin Johnson cross.
However, just before the half hour it was the visitors who took control of the game. Cheikh Ndoye thumped a header over the top when he should really have scored, but then Adams ghosted into a similar area to the first goal and fired across the exposed Shearer to double the advantage for Harry Redknapp’s side.
United gave a debut to Xemi Fernandez for the second half with the former Barcelona youngster looking good on the ball and knitting things togther neatly in midfield. The Yellows might have had a goal had Ryan Shotton not made a vital interception to deny Wes Thomas, and the excellent Hall then came as close as possible with a fierce strike from 25 yards that smashed against the bar with Stockdale beaten.
There were debuts for Dwight Tiendalli, who looked very assured at right back and made one brave block as Birmingham pressed, and Jon Obika up front who almost scored on 82 when Stockdale denied him at the near post.
Today, though, was more about looking at options and players gaining match time. We have said the same thing throughout pre season: results aren't that important at this stage but you can see the seeds of what new boss Pep Clotet is trying to bring to this United side, who keep the ball well, press the opposition when not in possession and are starting to build little partnerships all over the park.
They get one last chance to do so at Leeds next Saturday before the season starts for real at Oldham.
Shearer, Carroll (Tiendalli 63), Nelson, Raglan, Johnson, Hall, Ledson (Hanley 46) Ruffels, Rothwell (Fernandez 46), Henry (Narsingh 63), Thomas (Obika 63)
Subs not used: Stevens, Ribeiro, Martin, Baptiste, Roberts, Napa, Kelleher, Smile
Att: 3,507 Away 1,414
Fifty/50 winning number 539155 wins £322
Report by Chris Williams, pics by Steve Daniels