Steve Spooner reflects on 'unrecognisable' Under-23s display

Steve Spooner
Steve Spooner

That was a performance I don't recognise. I have not seen that before.

Steve Spooner

Steve Spooner pulled no punches in his assessment of Blues Under-23s heaviest defeat of the season.

Barnsley were 5-0 to the good before goals in the 85th and 89th minutes added some, minuscule, respectability for the team.

But those late consolations, scored by Agustin Medina and Josh McEachran, were small crumbs of comfort.

"But for the goalkeeper, it could have been a lot more," admitted Spooner.

"That was a performance that I don't recognise. I have not seen that before.

"In the build up, one or two people mentioned that the players didn't seem to be right at it.

"It showed; there was a complete lack of cohesion, a complete lack of desire to do the other side of it when we didn't have the ball.

"I said at half-time we were doing the opposites: we were rushed and hurried with the ball instead of being rushed and hurried with the press; we should have been calm and composed with the ball - that's what we were doing with the running.

"The bulk of the players had worked very hard in the week, so to just go out there and be so flat, it was very disappointing. The worst performance I have seen for a long, long time."

"Let's hope it was a one-off," Spooner added.

"As I've said, I've never seen that in them. They're a great group to have, they work very hard in training. But, for some unknown reason, they were lacking."

Blues changed to three centre-halves in the second-half, to try and stem Barnsley's control and verve.

Spooner explained: "We felt we were a little too loose at the back, they were getting runners in from midfield.

"Their front two caused us a lot of problems and we thought if we could shore that up a little bit and take a bit of pressure off the back, we could then play in their half a little bit more.

"But we were at sixes and sevens with that as well. There was a complete lack of communication on the pitch and the way they were in the dressing room before the game - flat - was how they were on the pitch."

Blues last away game in the PDL was an outstanding 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic. Then, in the Premier League Cup group stage, they had chances to beat Leeds United despite being reduced to 10 men in the first-half. That ended 0-0.

After the break at Barnsley, Odin Bailey hit the crossbar and Kane Thompson-Sommers had a headed chance at a corner. Then Barnsley went 4-0 up.

Senior Professional Development Coach Spooner said: "Goals change games.

"At 0-0 we were having a chance, they were having a chance. If people hadn't slipped, the ball was being cut back a little but behind them . . .

"But that's all ifs, buts and maybes. The top and bottom of it was that we conceded five goals and they've out-run us and out-passed us.

"That's a very disappointing thing. We're not going to hide behind anything else, that's the true facts of it."

Jayden Reid came on at the break for his first appearance since signing in the summer. Reid has been waylaid with an ankle injury sustained in pre-season.

"We're short for strikers," said Spooner. "One coming back does help us. We lost Josh Andrews the other day in training to injury.

"In this game, probably the one bright spark was Moha Ramos. Crazily enough we conceded five goals and our goalkeeper, if it wasn't for him, it could have been more."