06 July 2013
Dave Pursglove and Bill Wheatcroft's Birmingham City match picture album here
Alfreton Town gave a very good account of themselves in their first pre-season run out as a full-strength Birmingham City took the honours with a 3-1 victory at a sun-drenched Impact Arena.
On a baking hot day, both sides deserved huge credit for producing some very good football at times and considering it was the first throat clearing exercise, it was a surprisingly good contest.
The first chance went to Birmingham after just two minutes when Koby Arthur set up Nikola Zigic who skied his shot miles over the top from the edge of the area.
Alfreton responded and took the lead on four minutes when a lovely ball back across the edge of the six yard area from Danny Meadows gave Kristian Ramsey-Dickson the chance to slot home at the far post.
Lively sixteen-year-old Koby Arthur broke forward but fires wide from 20 yards as City start to string passes together.
Despite a baking hot day, the initial stages of the game were played at a good pace.
As the end-to-end play continued, a good run down the left from Ramsey-Dickson ended with him setting Josh Law up on the edge of the penalty area but he was crowded out.
Birmingham drew level on 20 minutes when Olly Lees buried the ball into the top right corner after an initial shot from Akwasi Asante had been blocked.
Two minutes later Paul Clayton shaped to shoot just inside the City penalty area but was denied by a great block by Paul Robinson.
Birmingham had a great chance to add a second on 28 minutes when Zigic tricked his way free in the penalty area but instead of opting to shoot, he took the ball too wide of the keeper and his cross was cleared.
A welcome drinks break was taken on the half-hour after which the visitors were handed, or rather headed, the lead by latest Reds signing Chris Westwood who stooped to try and head a searching cross from the right from Neal Eardley but only succeeded in steering it inside the left-hand upright and City had a 2-1 lead.
Michael Wylde produced an excellent block deep in the home penalty area to stop a Koby Arthur cross from developing and as Alfreton replied, a Josh Law free kick from the left sped through the penalty area - it just needed a touch.
Half-time came with Alfreton having good cause to be pleased with their efforts.
City changed all 11 players at half-time with Alfreton making eight themselves including several trialists.
The Blues began the second period purposefully and extended their lead on 47 minutes when Andrew Shinnie's low strike took a deflection and found the target.
Alfreton's rejigged side simply couldn't gain possession against a slick passing City who pinged the ball about crisply.
The trialist home keeper produced a superb save on the hour to keep out Chris Burke's powerful drive from the edge of the area and three minutes later Lee Novak shot straight at the home custodian.
Another very welcome drinks break was taken on 70 minutes after which Alfreton finally settled and began to make a few in-roads into the visiting defence.
However, it was the visitors who went close again when a lovely ball in from Novak gave Shinnie a site of goal but he put his angled drive a yard past the far post.
Alfreton continued to press for a consolation and they went close with a cracking shot from a trialist which just cleared the far angle of post and bar.
In the end City deservedly took the spoils but there were plenty of plus points for Reds manager Nicky Law from his new-look squad.
Alfreton Town Team:
Bradley Wood (Trialist, h/t)
Chris Westwood (Darran Kempson, h/t)
Michael Wylde (Trialist, h/t)
Connor Franklin (Trialist, h/t)
Josh Law (Trialist, h/t)
Dan Bradley (Tom Shaw, h/t)
Danny Meadows (Trialist 66)
Paul Clayton (Ben Tomlinson, h/t)
Kristian Ramsey-Dickson (trialist, h/t)
Birmingham City Team:
First half team: Doyle; Kalenda, Robinson, Hancox; Eardley, Lee, Elliott, Davis; Arthur; Nikola Zigic, Asante.
Second half team: Randolph, Spector, Mullins, Fry, Higgins, Ambrose, Reilly, Bell, Burke, Lee Novak, Andrew Shinnie.
Alfreton Town - Kristian Ramsey-Dickson (4).
Birmingham City - Olly Lee (20), Chris Westwood (og 32), Andrew Shinnie (47).
Man of the Match: Bradley Wood
Referee: Paul Thompson of Chesterfield