Of corse pre-season games are just a way to bleed in new players, to get fitness levels up and for a good bit of team bonding, but picking up a few wins and a few trophies on the way can't be all bad, can it?
It was a well fought game and a good work out for Blues. Nikola Zigic made his first start and put in an impressive shift up top in the first half proving himself a handful for the Beijing Guoan defence. New-signing Enric Valles also started, and also impressed, and ‘keeper Ben Foster played the full ninety minutes in goal, making a couple of great saves in the process, namely one from a superb free-kick, which Foster got a hand to and saved expertly.
The only goal of the game came again from Garry O’Connor, in the 82nd minute of the match. Cameron Jerome weaved his way cleverly through the Beijing defence, and released a shot which was partially saved by the goal keeper, and as the ball found it’s way back to Jerome, he unselfishly passed it to O’Connor who neatly slotted it in with a left foot strike.
Two goals for O’Connor, two wins for the Blues and two trophies to boot.
After a kit launch, a free for all in the Xtep shop and abit of team bonding at China's tourist attractions (in slightly questionable clothes I must add) Blues played their last game on their tour of China against Liaoning Hongyun, at another impressive venue; the Shenyang Olympic Stadium.
A Zigic-O'Connor partnership seems to be working well, and within just 18 minutes Blues were ahead courtesy of yet another Garry O'Connor goal. He rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home, after a crafted headed flick-on by Zigic.
Blues doubled their lead courtesy of Seb Larsson, who by the sounds of it has been working hard on this pre-season tour and his goal was well deserved. Craig Gardner sent a looping ball into the box, for Larsson to cooly chip the ball over the Liaoning Hongyun ‘keeper and into the net.
It was a comfortable win for Blues, who were able to pass the ball around without much pressure, which meant they could give most players a run out; including young Fraser Kerr who got a run out for the last twenty minutes or so. Goalkeeper Maik Taylor also got given the full ninety minutes.
O’Connor has shown a new lease of life so far this pre-season; with a one-goal-a-game ratio, doubters head’s are being turned, and all we can hope now is that he can keep this form up to when the real ball comes out, and that he doesn’t get injured again. McLeish has said several times that Garry is one of the most clinical finishers at the club, and it seems as O’Connor is proving his gaffer right, and the doubters wrong.
Last years pre-season, the tour in Austria and the games back in England, went pretty badly results wise. The players and manager alike admitted worries, but then we had an amazing season. This pre-season, so far, we've played well picking up results and a few trophies; I'm hoping this doesn't mean It'll continue this pattern of opposites meaning that we'll have a bad season - I'm sure it won't!