Here’s Bazza’s report on last night’s 5th victory in a row!
I’m in trouble with Mrs Bazza who clued in to the fact that the game was on the telly so why in heavens name was I travelling all the way up to Birmingham from work in midweek when there’s a recession on and there’s loads to do for Christmas and it’s about time you helped me a bit instead of gallivanting off to some far flung northern part of the Empire, plus the fact it’s freezing cold and the roads are treacherous. Her temper was not aided by the inane grin that I had upon my face following our fifth win in the bounce in one of the most exciting games of the season. I benignly pointed out to my beloved that nothing beats being present on occasions such as this and you know how hopeless I am when I’m watching Blues on the telly; I get more worked up and nervous than when I’m there. The other important reason for going to the match was that I still cannot believe that we are SIXTH and the manager of Liverpool is Rafa Beneathus! I had to go to the game to make sure that this is reality and I’m not part of some sort of surreal, ethereal world like the Matrix!
Seriously I went to the game not only because I prefer being in the ground to watching the telly but I wanted to get my tickets for the forthcoming games at Stoke and Nottingham Forest (sadly can’t go to Everton) and I thought I’d go and look round the old tat in the shop and pick up a Christmas present or two for the boys. The shop was like a zoo and because a lot of tat was half price, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and his dog were in there buying up all the old tat in sight. There was nothing there that I wanted so after a filthy burger and a cup of tea it was into my seat.
This was one of the best performances by Blues to date. The early goal on 12 minutes scored by Cameron Jerome helped. It came courtesy of a short corner that the giant thugs at the back for Blackburn failed to switch on to. The cross in was headed by the short-arse that is our Chucho and his attempt hit Ridgewell and the ball fell kindly for the big striker who couldn’t miss from three yards although we have been known to from closer recently. Blackburn are a big physical side and dealt with most of our crosses easily lead by the huge Samba. However, what they had in strength and size they lack in mobility and our smaller, quicker players caused them trouble with McFadden, Larsson, Bowyer and the ever dependable Ferguson dominating proceedings with slick passing and excellent movement. Jerome and Chucho were looking sharp and the former was guilty of wasting another header similar to the one on Saturday from another pinpoint cross from Ridgewell. Defensively we were solid and stood up well to Blackburn’s simple game plan which was so typical of a Sam Allardyce side; launch it into the box as quickly and as often as possible and look to win the second ball breakdown. Johnson, Dann and Ridgewell probably have headaches this morning from steepling balls descending from the cold night sky but they never blinked throughout the game and the headers were returned crisply and with plenty of distance. The half time 1 – 0 score line was satisfactory but it should arguably have been at least two.
The second period started similarly to the first with Blues pressing and dominating the game. A piece of sublime skill by Larsson set Stephen Carr who had been impressive all night going forward down the right wing. His cut back to Jerome ten yards out was dispatched into the bottom corner for a thoroughly deserved 2 – 0 lead on 49 minutes. Blues were now in complete control and this of course was the cue to start allowing their opponents back into the game. After an hour in which the passing and movement had run Blackburn ragged we started to engage in a game of head tennis and there was only one winner of that. In fairness Blackburn were vulnerable to the quick break but there is no need to play the killer pass from the edge of your own area and the ball started to come back towards our defensive line with monotonous regularity; the fact that Chucho Benitez was being pushed in the back every time he went to link up play and for most of these incidents to go unpunished was not helping the cause. A soft free kick thirty yards out finally caused our defence to crack and sadly it was not difficult to predict. We had largely played into Blackburn’s hands and had begun to play their type of game. Entreaties to get the ball on the deck had gone unheeded. A whipped, inswinging ball was met by Chimbonda at the far post. Hart saved his effort but was stretching and could only palm the ball down for the grateful Nelsen to net from five yards.
Blues regathered their composure and started to play football once again. Blackburn put Samba up front and threw the kitchen sink at it. This resulted in a very exciting and open game. The nerves were on edge as Blues missed three presentable chances; one from Jerome whose left foot drive was well saved by Robinson. The rebound was deftly played across to Chucho standing eight yards out with a gaping goal beckoning. The side foot effort was crashed against the bar! The groan from the crowd matched with hands over 23,000 eyes said it all; miss of the decade! This was three minutes from the end and we could all have relaxed but this is Blues after all. There was still time for Seb Larsson to be put through only for Robinson to smother. Keith Fahey was also put through in another incisive move only to be crashed to the ground by Givet; no penalty from the inept and hapless referee, Mr Jones who should have dismissed Steven Nzonzi, who had been at it all evening, for a second bookable offence. The tackle was so late it was into the next day! Mr Jones reached for his pocket only to remember he had already booked the forward earlier and so bottled it. A nervous four minutes of overtime was negotiated and another win was achieved. Birmingham deserved their victory against a poor, one-dimensional Blackburn side. It is good that they didn’t equalise but fortune favoured us. It would have been a travesty as Blackburn deserved little out of this game. However, when David Dunn is fit and the Lancashire club have his class and invention put back into their team I know they are much better than this performance suggests. For their part they can thank some poor finishing that they were not on the wrong end of a walloping.
Blues, if they continue to play like this, should go into the weekend’s game against Everton with confidence. The outcome will depend on whether we can take our chances when they present themselves.