I’ve been closely following the Birmingham Senior Cup for the last few seasons, a tournament which pits the youngsters of bigger Birmingham-based clubs against the seniors of lower level clubs from the area. Albion are the defending champions and just two matches away from retaining the title, having beaten Hednesford Town 0-1 in the quarter-final on Tuesday night. Here’s my assessment of how our lads fared, with four senior internationals involved…

GK – Jack Rose. More familiar with fans having recently been brought into the first team setup following an injury to Boaz Myhill. Had a solid 90 minutes, commanded his box well.

DF – Wez Atkinson. Had a loan stint at Cambridge United at the back end of 2014 and by all accounts impressed. Will run all day long and once again showed his technical ability on the ball.

DF – Kyle Howkins. A gangly central defender who is extremely adept in the air. Won a lot of headers against his marker, but can be susceptible to occasionally switching off at key moments.

DF – Jonas Olsson. He looked in decent condition as he looks to make a return to the seniors soon. Was his usual vocal self, dishing our orders and organising the backline.

DF – Sebastian Pocognoli. Endured a terrible first half in which just nothing went right for him. Picked it up after the break, although a shadow of what fans saw under Alan Irvine.

MF – Aaron Birch. A simple yet intelligent footballer. Always available to collect the ball and pass it off, but didn’t offer much in an attacking sense.

MF – Jason Davidson. Returning from success in the Asian Cup, he hugely underwhelmed. Has lost weight but head always down and cannot defend for toffee.

MF – Christian Gamboa. From knock-out stages of the World Cup to Birmingham Senior Cup’s equivalent, Gamboa started purposefully before fading out. Sometimes ignored on the right wing, but put in some excellent corners.

MF – Samir Nabi. Hardly noticed him, a quiet game doing the dirty work in a deeper role than his brother Adil. Stayed disciplined.

MF – Adil Nabi. Had a poor game by his high standards, but did provide the assist for the only goal of the tie. Silky on the ball as ever, if a little lightweight at times.

ST – Alex Jones. Have said it before, but we desperately need a striking partner for Jones, who finds it difficult to play the lone forward role. Took his goal with aplomb.

Summary:

It was generally a poor spectacle, but Jones’ goal immediately after the restart proved enough. Hednesford were a good team and played some nice football on the deck, but all their crosses were repelled by our tall central defenders. I was privileged to have the legendary Cyrille Regis sitting to my left and boss Tony Pulis and his assistant David Kemp to my right as I watched from up above. Pulis left at half-time but was the ultimate professional in the first half, making sure when he said anything it was discrete and private. Onto the semi-final we go, where we’ll face one of Nuneaton Town or Causeway United. Could we do the double this year (as well as the FA Cup)? Let’s wait and see.

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