View From the South – Birmingham City vs Newcastle Utd

Well this was a red letter day indeed. I was taking Mrs Bazza to her first ever football match in the guise of a Valentine’s Day treat. The club had a hospitality function on which Chris, Will and their wives, Gayle and Juley had also signed up for. My wife doesn’t have the football gene and asked when I told her I was taking her out to dinner in Birmingham; her questions were why are we going all the way up there and do you mean I have to watch football? Never mind getting her into a football stadium at all was a start. Will arrived at my place in a shiny new Ford Galaxy that he had purchased in lieu of his enlarging family and we set off for Birmingham via the M40. We picked up Gayle and Chris at Baginton and went straight on to St Andrews arriving a few minutes late but not so much as it mattered. A glass of champagne, a starter of sliced duck on a bed of salad followed by rack of pork with fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes with a chocolate whisky tart with raspberry and vanilla sauce for dessert set us up nicely for kick off having taken our seats in the directors’ box. I tried to explain to my missus which team was which and that the noisy raucous mob to our left was the lot from Newcastle.

As is often the case there are always late comers and we were obliged to stand up to allow a couple of people to get by. As I looked back towards the pitch the ball was in the net, the Toon Army were going mental and the visiting players were hugging and kissing Lovenkrands in the spirit of the occasion. I had to go with the benefit of the replay on the screen and it was clear that following an initial cross from Enrique which was blocked a follow up cross from Gutierrez was half volleyed past Foster at the near post by Lovenkrands who had got across the front of Roger Johnson who frankly was having a kip; a really soft goal as bad as the one that we conceded against Manchester City recently. There was only 95 seconds gone and we were losing a game that we were fancied to win.

We looked decidedly shaky but settled down after ten minutes to take control of possession. Blues did create the better chances and should have equalised from one of three efforts from Zigic who fired in a smart shot which was well saved by Harper and two from Gardner who got in a good position to score about five minutes before the break when his cross shot was once again well parried by the keeper but he was fortunate perhaps that there was no blue shirt in the key position for a tap in from the rebound. Gardner was guilty of missing the best chance of the half from the edge of the area that he fired high and wide when hitting the target should have been the least expected.

A half time pint was followed by another poor start to the period from Blues when they allowed the Newcastle midfield far too much space between the lines and a cross once again by Gutierrez from the left was delivered too easily for Leon Best to head in above the normally solid and dependable Roger Johnson who was responsible on the night for both concessions. After this the heart and fight seemed to go out of Blues who looked tired, leaden-footed and lacking drive and tempo. There was a little flurry towards the end and Zigic sent a free header over the bar from eight yards and Jerome who came on for Larsson scuffed a good chance and Phillips another substitute was unable to capitalise as the ball bobbled across in front of him. Roger Johnson completed a disappointing match for him when he headed a bullet of a ball from a corner straight at Harper when a couple of feet either side of him would surely have reduced the arrears.

Frankly, we were never going to win this game once we went behind early and definitely when 2-0 in arrears. In keeping with the occasion, short of wrapping the goals up in heart shaped boxes, filling all the gaps with chocolate, tying pretty ribbons and bows round them and attaching labels professing undying love and kisses to the Toon Army, the goals could not have been more gifts than they were. In the end, Blues didn’t play all that badly overall and Newcastle weren’t that great but they moved the ball quicker in the second half, they were first to more knock downs than us and they were slightly more accurate. The statistics from the game were pretty even but Newcastle got the basics right, took their fleeting chances when they presented themselves and most importantly defended properly which we did not. We were well beaten in the end and Newcastle deserved their win and the three points that go with it.

A massive opportunity missed for Blues I’m afraid.

Ah well, on to the Owls on Saturday; don’t screw that up Blues please.

The Good: The first half performance which Blues for their part played well. The company my wife and I shared, the food, the champagne and the occasion.

The Bad: Shocking defending for both goals! Newcastle will not have an easier win than this all season.

The Ugly: The officiating; appallingly poor all night.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Foster 6, Carr 7, Ridgewell 6, Jiranek 6 (Murphy 73, 6), Johnson 5, Bentley 8, Ferguson 5, Gardner 6, Larsson 6 (Phillips 76, 6), Zigic 7, Martins 6, (Jerome 58, 6) Not used: Doyle, Fahey, Bowyer. Beausejour
Booked: Murphy 86
Goals: None

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper 7, Enrique 7 Williamson 7, Simpson 7, Collocini 7, Tiote 7 Nolan 6, Barton 7, Gutierrez 8 (Campbell 87, N/A), Best 8 (Guthrie 76, 6), Lovenkrands 8 (Ranger 65, 6). Not used: Perch, Kuqi, Fergusson, Krul.

Booked: Nolan 36, Barton 62, Ranger 90 + 4.
Goals: Lovenkrands 2, Best 50.

Attendance: 28,270

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire) 3 – missed a clear back pass infringement in the first half for a free kick that would have been only six yards out. This referee has to be the worst official on the circuit apart from Martin Atkinson who is in a class of his own. Mr Mason totally failed to allow the game to flow and blew the whistle for the slightest thing disrupting flow and his management of the advantage law was laughable. Most poor decisions were minor things but they mount up over a game. His assistants were equally poor with several offside calls plain wrong. The officials did nothing about the blatant time wasting and although he added on four and five minutes in the two halves the extra time was for head clash injuries rather than time wasting. Joey Barton bounced the ball in the corner at least half a dozen times every time before placing the ball in the quadrant to restart and nothing was done.

I don’t blame Newcastle by the way as they were 2-0 up and disrupting any rhythm or pressure the home side might have been able to build was clearly in their interests. I would expect the same from our lot had the roles been reversed and there was an official present allowing you to get away with it. In the final analysis it still would have made no difference as Newcastle shut up shop at the end and saw the game out competently.

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9 Comments on View From the South – Birmingham City vs Newcastle Utd

  1. “The Bad: Shocking defending for both goals! Newcastle will not have an easier win than this all season.”

    Please refer to our West Ham games at both SJP and Upton Park.

  2. I’m not sure of the point that you are making ‘El Toro’ but if you are suggesting that you won easier against West Ham at both venues then fair enough but as everybody knows they don’t have a defence 😛

    The point I’m trying to make is the manner of both the Newcastle goals last night are not the sort associated with Birmingham City. We can defend far better than that and the fact that we conceded so softly means they were gifts. Your lads capitalised and well done to them. If you don’t defend properly in this league you will be punished and so it proved.

  3. I’m a Toon fan and think this is a very good well balanced article. Some of the Arsenal lads could learn from you. I think it was a decent game however as you said not many chances for either team. I thought your best passages of play came through Bentley and if when you played the ball along the ground to him and let him get into crossing positions you looked dangerous. I thought that maybes you tried to rely a bit too much on the height of Zigic by playing long balls for large parts of the game and this was part of the downfall. Like you said though I thought beforehand this was a game we would lose due to your brilliant record at home this season. Good luck for the rest of the season.

  4. The time wasting was the most blatant I’ve seen for a long long time , but you have to blame the officials ( all of them ! ) and how can they put up the board ( at half time ) for 4 mins , when Newcastle were still in the middle of one of their ( numerous ) ” Oh I’m hurt Ref , stop the play will you , and the opposition !! ” time wasting ploys ?

  5. Interesting and balanced views as always. I would say that there was a general feeling around where we sit, that the Blues were holding back a little for Wembley. There was a sense that they weren’t quite as committed as usual, a very ‘unblues like’ performance.
    Many of the team that played against the toon will probably be missing on Saturday, and probably held back a little, for fear of getting injured. This was probably not a conscious decision, but half expected.

    I do feel that having Zigic in the side has made us more direct and predictable. I certainly remain unconvinced about him, not enough pace and mobility, to name a few of his shortcomings.

    Gardner has been short of his best for a few weeks now, so has Ferguson. I hope they regain their mojo very very soon.

    I thought Newcastle looked a decent side, and considering that they were a championship side just a short while ago, looked comfortable in the premier league. Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that we played poorly, we had several great chances to have at least got a draw.

    I did feel that as soon as super Kev came on, it gave us a different dimension up front. I would love to see more of him in the coming weeks.


  6. Zigic has an extremely , shall we kindly say , specialist role ?.. and that ‘ role ‘ can be absolutely vital for the two or three minutes it takes to sometimes snatch a victory, and ‘ snatch ‘ is all we will ever do playing to ‘ talents’ of a man like that.
    EVERYONE and his dog now know about Zigic , in fact the only misunderstanding some teams may have about him, is that they may not realise how deceiving he is . He’s worse than we think !
    I promise you , they will be showing clips of him ‘ playing’ at Wembley for years to come , unfortunately for all the wrong reasons ! I’m absolutely DREADING it !………….

  7. Unfortunately, time wasting is becoming a bit of an art form in the professional game and it takes strong resolutions at the top and I mean FIFA to put a stop to it. Rubbish though some of the refereeing is I still believe strongly that more power has to be placed in their hands to stamp out time wasting, dissent and gamesmanship. Yellow cards should be ten minutes off the field of play in my view and dissent should equal an automatic yellow as should time wasting. OK we’ll get a few 8 v 7 games for a while but it would I am convinced put a stop to a lot of these irritating antics we get from these highly paid prima donas. Wont happen though because Sepp Blatter and Platini wont change a thing.

    TR7 I have to disagree about Zigic. I think he is a better player than you and a number of others are giving him credit for. The bloke is improving all the time and deserves our support. I’m not dreading the final as I think he could be key to any chance we may have of success unlikely though that may be.


  8. Zigic probably is a better player than I dismissively give him credit for Bazza , but he’s nowhere near Premiership standard. Let’s just hope he doesn’t find and play at his true level whilst still in a Blue shirt.

  9. Newcaslte have shown signs of being a really different side when they have played away from home, especially in the first half of the season. That game was a great win for Newcastle simply because of the work rate the team put in. Everyone looked to be really up for it.

    As you said, NUFC were strong at the back, but they also looked strong up front for a change. I cant complain about the work rate and commitment from Lovenkrands and Best. 2 strikers I never thought would step up to the plate well, but they did and BOTH scored.

    Zigic looked capable of putting a few away, missed opportunities?

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