Helmond Sport 1-1 Town
Tuesday, 17th Jul 2012 19:51
Michael Chopra netted his first goal of pre-season as the Blues came from behind to draw their opening friendly 1-1 at Helmond Sport.
Boss Paul Jewell started with a side which included new signing Luke Chambers but with Town’s other new addition Elliott Hewitt out for another month at least having undergone hip operations while with Macclesfield.
Trialists Marian Kello, Plaisir Bahamboula and Soualio Bakayoko were amongst the subs with Lee Martin missing with a minor niggle.
The game’s first action saw a clash of heads which left Damien Delaney requiring treatment but the Irishman was fine to continue.
Helmond enjoyed the better of the early possession but with the Blues looking the more dangerous, the new slimline Michael Chopra cutting in and striking a shot which Van der Steen caught to his left. For the home side, Emrullah Güvenc hit a shot from the edge of the area but failed to trouble Lee-Barrett.
Helmond went in front in the 16th minute when Güvenc took the ball to the edge of the Town area and curled a shot beyond Lee-Barrett to the keeper’s left before Carlos Edwards could get in a tackle.
The Belgian-Turkish midfielder was proving to be the game’s most effective performer and in the 18th minute sent Gillian Justiana away on the left but the Curaçaoan scraped his strike across the face. Soon after, another Güvenc break through the middle led to Justiana shooting over.
The Dutch Eerste Divisie (second tier) side were good for their lead but after persistence from Byron Lawrence, playing in Lee Martin’s usual role, skipper Edwards ended a spell of Blues possession by shooting over from 25 yards.
Town again threatened in the 32nd minute when Edwards sent Chopra away down the right. The striker was on his own and hit a shot from a tight angle which cannoned off the bar, eventually leading to a Blues corner.
From the short flagkick, Lawrence took the ball inside and hit a low shot which hit the post, then the keeper, then the on-rushing Chopra before going out of play.
Some clever footwork by Chopra led to an opportunity in the 39th minute, but the Blues’ frontman scuffed wide.
The scoreline remained 1-0 at the break with the home side deserving their lead. Güvenc’s regular strolls through the centre of the Blues’ midfield might have yielded more than the single goal.
Town might have grabbed a goal when Chopra hit the bar, but overall, Paul Jewell won’t have been overly impressed with his side’s lack of bite and inability to keep hold of the ball.
Half-time sub Jimmy Bullard was straight into the action, taking the ball from Sequeira before chipping the ball on to the roof of the net. On 54 Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who had been quiet up to then, hit a low shot which Van der Steen saved to his left.
Seconds later, the former Arsenal man threaded through Chopra but the Blues’ striker’s shot was bundled on to the post by the Helmond keeper. From the resultant corner, another Chopra effort was too close to Van der Steen.
At the other end, Justiana’s shot deflected through to half-time Blues sub Marian Kello, who was proving to be a noisy presence behind the Town backline.
The Blues, with Bullard pulling the strings, had been better after the break and in the 59th minute they got back on terms. Carson fed Chopra and this time the striker wasn’t to be denied, beating Van der Steen to his left.
Helmond enjoyed most of the ball after Town’s equaliser and in the 71st minute should have gone back in front when Sequeira took the ball off the dithering Chambers and played sub Verberne in on goal but the Blues’ new defender managed to get back to take the ball from the Helmond right-back.
Town should have been in front in the 74th minute when Ainsley cut back to Bullard, who shot over. At the other end, Bakayoko, one of a flurry of second-half subs, was fortunate to get away with a moment of hesitation as a cross came in from the left.
Brouwers looped a loose ball to the solid but so far not hugely tested Kello, then for the Blues Andy Drury mis-hit his shot after good work on the left from Bahamboula, who had been a threat with his pace and tricks down the left since his introduction.
A quickly taken Emmanuel-Thomas freekick gave Drury a chance in the 84th minute but the former Luton man’s chip failed to trouble Van der Steen. Two minutes later, Bullard curled a shot wide from the right.
The Blues were on top as the game entered its final couple of minutes and the increasingly influential Emmanuel-Thomas hit a low shot that Van der Steen couldn’t hold on to at the first attempt.
Scotland had the ball in the net from a sublime Emmanuel-Thomas pass in the final minute of normal time, but with the linesman’s flag already raised.
A draw was probably a fair result. Helmond had been the better side in the first half, while the Blues had the better of it after the break.
Of the trialists, keeper Kello had very little to do, but did it effectively, while left-back Bakayoko made one important challenge but like the Slovak had few opportunities to impress. Winger Bahamboula caught the eye with some pacey runs and a few tricks, creating the odd chance.
Overall, Paul Jewell will be pleased with an improved display after a disappointing first period in which his side could have been a couple of goals behind.
Helmond Sport: Van der Steen, Kazlauskas, De Regt, Ter Horst (Van Geffen 46), Justiana (Lammers 82), Sequeira, Quekel (Carlos David 64), Stachnik (Veerman 46), Hattu (Verberne 46), Güvenc (Brouwers 64), Siers. Unused: Sengier.
Town: Lee-Barrett (Kello 46), Edwards (Ainsley 73), Cresswell (Bakayoko 67), Chambers, Delaney, Hyam, Stevenson (Drury 46), Lawrence (Bullard 46), Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra (Scotland 73), Carson (Bahamboula 67). Unused: Whight, Murray.
Photo: Action Images
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