Chris had pointed out a few weeks ago that there was a hospitality package going for this game at an affordable price and so we decided to hire a box for ten of us. I had four tickets so I arranged to take my sons Jonny and Ben and my mate and work colleague, Mark to whom I owed reciprocal hospitality for trips to Twickenham last year. Mark caught the train from Guildford which stopped on its way to Reading at my local station, Blackwater where Jonny and I joined him. Ben got on our train at Oxford and we all went on to Coventry where Will was waiting with a people carrier for the last leg of the journey to St Andrews. I love a plan when it comes together and this had so far. We had a box in the Gil Merrick stand just along from and above the visiting supporters for a two course buffet lunch and access to a bar; quite Carling really! 😀 there were ten of us altogether; the five of us aforementioned, Chris, little Jack, Adrian, a long suffering Walsall fan and Will’s and Chris’ Uncle Frank and Auntie Joan whom I hadn’t seen at the football since our glorious day at Wembley five years ago. We were treated to lamb hotpot, cauliflower cheese chocolate gateau with chocolate sorbet and cream dessert washed down with coffee and there were a few beers consumed during the afternoon too.
In truth I had no great expectations for this game and had stated so on Often Partizan yesterday when I commented that the reality voice on my left shoulder had made a more compelling argument than the fantasy voice on my right and I thought that Bournemouth would prevail 1-3. I don’t want to sound negative but I felt that the Cherries have a good side that is frankly better than us and their pace and movement would be too much for us; it remained to be seen and the beauty of the FA Cup is that anything can happen on any given day. It was just to be hoped that the result was nothing like what occurred in October 2014. That was the most dispiriting experience of all my years watching Blues going back to 1963 when I attended my first game as a kid. In all that time I have never seen a team wearing our colours ever give up like that and just capitulate. I never want to witness such a thing again and hopefully given the transformation that has occurred following Gary Rowett’s installation on the Monday after that match it isn’t going to.
The weather was shocking with lashing rain and cold conditions and we felt very smug and self-satisfied sitting watching the football in the warm with refreshments on tap. Blues started brightly and should have scored as early as the first minute when following a lovely flowing move down the left and Viv Soloman-Otabor skinning his full back, his cross found Shinnie running in three yards out. It was more difficult to miss but over and wide it went. For much of the first half Blues were the dominant and better side but the Cherries came back into it in the latter third of the half and Yann Kermogant caused a scare with a header against the angle of post and bar with Legzdins beaten. However, it was Blues that deservedly took the lead on 40 minutes when a beautifully flighted free kick from the right was headed inside the near post by Michael Morrison. Sadly the lead lasted a mere four minutes when a needless penalty was conceded when Grounds bundled into the back of Eunan O’Kane. Gary Rowett, I note, did not think that either penalty in this game should have been awarded and true they were soft but I’ve looked at the footage since and I stick with my view of both incidents in real time that the referee was right on both occasions. Lee Tomlin slammed the penalty kick straight down the middle and Adam Legzdins cooperatively dived out the way. I’m sure I have read somewhere that if keepers stood still and didn’t dive they save 20% of the kicks faced?
It was therefore all square at the break. Cotterill was replaced by Maghoma and the injured again Eardley’s place was taken by Spector moving across from centre half with his berth next to Morrison occupied by Shane Lowry, in for only his second appearance. The match continued to be a good watch and Blues should have gone ahead again just after the hour when Kieftenbeld was felled in the box by O’Kane and James Vaughan immediately picked up the ball and confidently strode to the spot. In his desperation to score his first goal for us he snatched at the shot going for power and the ball sailed into the Tilton. Both sides hit the woodwork after that and Birmingham’s chance came about with Bournemouth trying to play football a few yards from their byline. They get robbed and Maghoma carves out a glorious chance eight yards out that he curled round the keeper only for it to cannon off the post. Shinnie wasn’t expecting the rebound which he scooped back onto the same post and behind. I suspect he may have been flagged offside had it gone in but if the penalty or this chance go in, Birmingham probably go on to win the game.
Unfortunately, as so often happens in football with both sides going for it to avoid a replay, it was the visitors who made Blues pay for their profligacy in front of goal by snatching the winner with four minutes left. Despite a double save from Legzdins Murray followed up to bundle the ball in from a yard out. It is arguable that the keeper actually has both hands on the ball when Murray makes contact but the man in the middle saw no problem and frankly I’ve no real argument. The result was perhaps a little harsh on us and I sympathise with those that feel we deserved a better result but I share Gary Rowett’s view that we didn’t deserve to progress to the fourth round. Blues carved out enough gilt edged chances to have won the game comfortably. The difference between the two sides was that Bournemouth took their chances and we didn’t. You cannot miss opportunities like we had and expect to win against good sides like these. A replay was something that neither team wanted so it’s for the best that this game was settled first time round. We have far more important business to contend with at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.
A funny thing happened on the way back. We traveled home in Will’s people carrier and as we were nearing home I asked Will to pull over as my bladder was demanding a stop. It was pitch dark and tipping it down with rain as I sought a discrete spot to obtain relief. I got back into the car but I soon realised that I was the epicentre of an appalling smell around my feet; yes readers I’d trod in something! I was ejected from the car and not allowed back until my shoe and the detachable carpet segment from the car were thoroughly cleaned on the wet grass!
The Good: The catering team that looked after us so well in the Gil Merrick stand; great food and cheerful service; thank you to all concerned. The match itself considering the poor weather conditions was entertaining and of a creditable standard; well done to both teams.
The Bad: Birmingham’s finishing particularly the penalty was the reason they didn’t win this game.
The Ugly: The imbecile who was mouthing obscenities through the glass of our box when Bournemouth equalised. When there are families present on a day out which include elderly people in their eighties and a child of eleven years old there is no call for it, none at all.
Birmingham City: Adam Legzdins 6, Neil Eardley 6 (Shane Lowry 45, 7) Michael Morrison 7, Jonathan Spector 7, Jonathan Grounds 6, Viv Soloman-Otabor 6 (Jon Toral 66, 6) David Davis 7, Maikel Kieftenbeld 8, Andrew Shinnie 6, David Cotterill 6 (Jacques Maghoma 45, 7) James Vaughan 7.
Subs not used: Tomas Kuszczak, Stephen Gleeson, Clayton Donaldson, Nicolai Brock-Madsen.
Goals: Morrison 40
Yellow cards: Morrison.
Bournemouth: Adam Federici 6, Trevor Lee (Steve Cook 84, N/A) Sylvain Distin 7, Bailey Cargill 7, Matt Butcher 6, Marc Pugh 7, Shaun MacDonald 6, Eunan O’Kane 7, Lee Tomlin 7, Yann Kermorgant 7 (Glenn Murray 77, 6) Tokelo Rantie 6 (Matt Ritchie 39, 6)
Subs not used: Ryan Allsop, Elliott Ward, Josh Wakefield, Jordan Green.
Goals: Tomlin (pen) 44 Murray 86
Yellow cards: None
Referee: Mike Jones 6: I thought Mr Jones refereed the game sensibly reflected in the fact that there was only one yellow card and that for dissent. Many people thought the penalty decisions were dubious but they looked fair enough time, even on review. They would have been given as free kicks anywhere else on the pitch and at least the calls were consistent. It’s not the referee’s fault that Bournemouth scored theirs and we squandered ours.
Attendance: 13,140 (2,300 away fans)
I thought I would add a few thoughts. This was my first game this season actually live, obviously caught us on the tv. I took Jordan my son back to Coventry where he is studying, and he treated me to the game. The tables have been turned!
I think Baz has pretty much nailed the match, everyone around me were furious with their penalty but although it may have been soft, when you lunge in like that you give the ref an opportunity to give it.
Our goal was really well taken, and how we didn’t add to it – I have no idea. I came away more pleased than disappointed. I thought it was a really enjoyable game, and we showed what we could do. I thought we looked balanced and neat on the ball. Soloman looks a great player. I really felt for Vaughan. You can see he is desperate to score for us and I hope he finds the net soon.
Over all a good afternoon other than the result.
Kev (A mini view from the South West!)