Birmingham City 5
Redmond 35, 41, Burke 55, Lovenkrands 59, 64
FOR more than half an hour, Argyle’s first home pre-season game – some would say their first serious pre-season game – was going rather well: half an hour later, it had gone altogether.
Birmingham ruthlessly exploited the Pilgrims’ every weakness, with two goals each from Nathan Redmond and a previous Pilgrims’ nemesis, Peter Lovenkrands, sandwiching Chris Burke’s opportunistic strike. All inside 30 brutal minutes.
I guess that is why they call them the Blues.
Only the second goal by the prodigiously talented Redmond – a thumper from outside the box – was down purely to the skill of the opposition. For the other four, Argyle contributed, to a greater or lesser extent, to their own downfall.
Burke had already split a hesitant defence to tee up Redmond for the opener, when he seized upon a cock-up between goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin and skipper Darren Purse to fire home the second in the 55th minute.
Before ten more minutes had passed, Lovenkrands – who netted an FA Cup hat-trick against Argyle when he was with Newcastle – had scored twice, thanks in no small part to the exquisite promptings of fellow striker Marlon King.
Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?
Well, there were some bright spots for Argyle manager Carl Fletcher to consider. Debutant Andres Gurrieri, the Argentinean winger, buzzed around, and Matt Lecointe and Luke Young both brought the best out of Birmingham goalkeeper Colin Doyle, a former Argyle trialist, late on.
In the end, though, the difference between a side who, last season, narrowly failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League and one who narrowly succeeded in avoiding dropping out of the Football League was painfully evident.
There is a natural order to things, especially football.
This is pre-season, though, the exercise of which is to prepare for the matches that matter. In that respect, discovering your weaknesses in time for them to be sorted out on the training-ground will be no bad thing.
Argyle (4-4-2): 20 Rene Gilmartin; 17 Curtis Nelson, 5 Darren Purse (capt), 4 Maxime Blanchard, 3 Robbie Williams; 8 LukeY oung, 15 Paul Wotton (19 Joe Lennox 58), 6 Conor Hourihane, 27 Andres Gurrieri; 9 Nick Chadwick (21 Matt Lecointe 71), 11 Warren Feeney (7 Paris Cowan-Hall 58). Substitutes (not used): 1 Jake Cole (gk), 13 Ollie Chenoweth (gk), 22 Jared Sims, 23 Jamie Richards, 24 Jordan Copp, 25 Isaac Vassell.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): 13 Colin Doyle; 2 Stephen Carr (capt), 6 Curtis Davies (16 Will Packwood 78), 4 Steven Caldwell (5 Pablo Ibanez 67), 3 David Murphy (18 Lee Naylor 75); 7 Chris Burke, 10 Darren Ambrose (12 Darren Carter 75), Hayden Mullins (15 Wade Elliott 67), 22 Nathan Redmond (14 Morgaro Gomis 67); 9 Marlon King (19 Nikola Zigic 67), 11 Peter Lovenkrands (17 Adam Rooney 67). Substitutes (not used): 23 Jake Jervis, 24 Jack Deaman, 26 David Lucas (gk).
Referee: Brett Huxtable.
Attendance: 2,778 (542 away).