Blues kicked off their pre-season campaign earlier today with a 3-2 win over a Hong Kong select XI. They found themselves 1-0 up after 21 minutes, however they had to come from behind to beat the resilient Hong Kong team with a late winner.
Just over 13,000 were there to watch the game, which in a 40,000 capacity stadium looked a small crowed, but in the grand scheme of things is not a bad crowd at all for a pre-season game. A familiar line-up started the first half for Blues, with the only new boy starting being Ben Foster. Scott Dann got on the end of s Seb Larsson free-kick to put the Blues 1-0 up after just 21minutes at a very humid Hong Kong stadium, before Hong Kong struck back only minutes later with a Leonardo Alessandro Ferreira goal. Blues fans probably wished they hadn't bothered getting up at 8am, as the Hong Kong select team scored again after an impressive shot by Christian Kwesi Annan on the stroke of half time, leaving it 2-1 to Hong Kong XI at the break.
Several changes were made for Birmingham at half time; Foster made way for Taylor, Murphy got his first run out since he broke his knee-cap, Carr was replaced by Parnaby, Valles filled the left wing gap, Gardner and Michel both came on to unite in a centre-midfield partnership and O’Connor came on for a tired looking Phillips.
Blues started the second half more brightly, with the bulk of possession , and as the game went on they were considerably the better side, but still in search of that all important equaliser. New boy Valles impressed, while Michel and Gardner made for a promising partnership in the middle of the field. The anticipated appearance of Nikola Zigic had to wait until the 66th minute, when he replace Cameron Jerome and youngster Jordon Mutch replaced Keith Fahey. With some neat little touches as soon as he came on Zigic seemed to be fitting in just perfectly, as did Jordon Mutch, as in the 73rd minute he crossed the ball into the box to find the head of Craig Gardner, who cushioned the ball into the back of the net, much to the relief of the blues players, who had finally found their much deserved equaliser.
From then on Blues pushed further in search of a winner, and as penalties loomed to decide the winner of the Xtep Cup, Parnaby’s pass fell to the feet of Nikola Zigic, who provided a brilliant ball to Garry O’Connor, who slid the ball home, just minutes before the final whistle sounded.
There was no time left for a comeback, and Blues were crowned champions on the (much coveted) Xtep Cup! The first of many this season? Who knows, but to play your first pre-season game and to win a trophy can only be a good omen for the season to come!