BIRMINGHAM City have rated Stratford Town top scorer Ben Stephens as ‘one to watch’ after he enjoyed a goalscoring run-out with their under-23s side.
The 20-year-old, who has already been training with Ipswich Town, has linked up to train with Blues and featured in their 2-0 win at Cardiff City U23s on Monday.
He scored the opening goal on 14 minutes after charging down an intended clearance by the Bluebirds keeper and impressed Blues Under-23s boss Richard Beale.
“I thought he was excellent,” said Beale. “He played well with the ball and was good without it, tracking back with his runners. He did the other side of the game and that was the test of him, really. He’s certainly one to watch.
“Anyone who does well in the leagues locally we go and watch them. We keep eyes on them. We got him in for a couple of days a week back but he couldn’t stay with us. We’ve got him back in now and he’s done himself no harm.
“Such boys in local leagues are very, very hungry. They have seen the other side of it, they relish the chance when they get it.”
Stephens is set to feature again when Blues U23s meet Nottingham Forest this afternoon (Friday) at St Andrew’s.
Stratford were due to play Banbury United last night (Thursday) in a rearranged Evo-Stik Southern Premier fixture as they start a run of three successive away matches. They head to Biggleswade Town on Saturday and then St Ives Town on Tuesday.
Carl Adams’ Town will be hoping to return to winning ways on their travels after a 1-0 defeat to Slough Town on Saturday meant a fifth successive home loss.
There was little between the sides at the MoodChimp Stadium but promotion-chasing Slough bagged the winner on 35 minutes through Perry Coles. The home defence failed to clear a George Wells cross and Coles tucked home from close-range.
Eli Bako had a couple of opportunities for Stratford – forcing keeper Jack Turner into a scrambling save and another more routine effort – while Mike Taylor threatened with a couple of half-chances but Slough were too well organised to let their lead slip.
“We’ve come up short against a promotion-chasing side once again,” said boss Adams. “As I said last week after the King’s Lynn game, the top eight teams in this league are a class above us and that’s been the story of our season.
“We’re competitive against teams around us in the table but we simply haven’t got the resources to go head-to-head with the sides pushing for the play off-spots.”