Birmingham City’s Townsend Keeping Imps Blue Sky Thinking In The Black
When Birmingham City granted Lincoln a one year loan deal this summer it saved the cash strapped Imps on both a peace of mind and financial front. The 19-year old had another storming game against Braintree Town yesterday showing a composure well beyond his years. His five saves were made to look easy thanks to his positioning and cat-like reflexes. He also stood tall against some big old oaks – at 5’11” Nick is not the tallest of keepers – which is no mean feet in a Gary Simpson side where one is expected to stand shoulder to shoulder with six-foot plus Sincil Bank soldiers.
Thanks for reading STMI
The Vanarama Premiership is not the place for shrinking violets. Thus, when Nick joined the struggling Imps on an emergency youth loan, initially for a month, on the eve of St Valentine’s Day, many expected the proverbial massacre, against Kidderminster, then serious contenders. Nick’s clean sheet, command of his area and distribution suggested City had found a more than adequate replacement for a first choice keeper who looked set to miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury. It also ensured the club would remain inside one of the smallest budgets in the Conference Premier.
Not bad for an 18-year-old who had spent just 3 months at Oxford City, the previous season, plus a handful of games on the bench in cup games for his home-town club. Nick went from strength to strength in his second game, a 1-1 draw at home to Chester, making some fabulous saves that put him in the Non League Paper’s team of the week. He would go on to play 14 matches last season, his accurate distribution a somewhat understated part of the team’s improvement.
Paul Farman must have been gutted when Nick elected to return to Lincoln in August, particularly as he had recovered and prepared to ’embrace’ a new conference season. For Nick it was an easy decision. That début in front of over 2,000 had been his first experience of a decent crowd remember. Indeed, he has admitted on occaisions to a warm affinity with the fans who create an atmosphere home and away, but equally, to the preparation and professionalism of the management, the keeper coach and the build up to match-day. Thus a return to Impdom was something he could not trade for a return to U-21 formative football. We need luck hereabouts, fortunately no League club came in and Birmingham still have a few ahead of him in the first team pecking order.
Braintree was another battle, very much hard fought and won, particularly with the Imps down to ten men. Nick showed his typical consistency, bravery and shot stopping skills, with that fantastic 30- yard volley to get Tomlinson away to ease the pressure. His kicking is certainly superb, but then so is his awareness of Caprice and Newton, the Imps flying full-backs, who tore at their opposite numbers with a vengeance yesterday in a 3-2 thriller. Were it not for the sending off Lincoln were out of sight and exploiting the flanks at will, turning both Habergham and Peters inside out, at will.
With Lincoln third and heading for top-dogs FC Halifax on Bank Holiday Monday, a small squad just got smaller with Diagne’s harsh red (a penalty yes but he was not the last man with Brown cutting off any route to goal) and doubts over Newton and Caprice, manager Gary Simpson potentially has just sixteen fit players in a season many feel will be key to the club’s future. That means packing the bench with the cream of the Lincoln City youth graduates and, perhaps even, the player-keeper coach. The games will certainly be coming thick and fast for the eager Blues babe turned red Imp. Certainly no shrinking violet, perhaps purple passion is coming through in the mix.
|26||Nick Townsend||DoB 01/11/1994||GK||5’11” (181 cm)||14st 5lbs (91 kg)|
(click on player name for full stats)