I was originally going to go to this game on the train as usual but Will called up earlier this week and said that he was driving up with little Will and would pick up his brother, Chris and little Jack on the way through. At the last minute, Chris said he couldn’t go due to work commitments at the pub, little Jack had to cancel as he had engagements with his paternal grandparents and little Will was shattered after a busy week and Will felt it best to leave him at home. That left just Will and me and having picked me up at Guildford station we made excellent time, aided by an eclectic mix of music in Will’s car, arriving at Baginton for a quiet pint at 12.30. We eventually arrived at St Andrews just before half past two and enjoyed a box of braised beef in ale with diced spuds. It was hot, tasty and substantial and washed down with another pint hit the spot.
Blues started well and pinged the ball around quickly. Blues could have been ahead as early as the eight minutes when a smart header by Harlee Dean from Jota’s cross from the right was well saved at the foot of his post by David Raya Martin in goal. Maxime Colin was next to test the keeper who saved the Birmingham man’s shot from just outside the box on 13 minutes. Blackburn’s defence looked shaky and hopes of a much needed win to make up for the disappointment of the Bolton defeat last time out looked on the cards especially when Blues took the lead through Che Adams’ 20th goal of the season on 16 minutes. Gary Gardner stole the ball from a hesitant Blackburn midfielder 40 yards out and played an immediate defence splitting pass into the path of the young striker in the inside right position. His touch was deft before accurately slotting the ball across the keeper’s right hand and in just inside the far post.
All was going well at this stage with further attempts by Adams and Michael Morrison not long after the goal but gradually, Blues began to be sloppy with the ball, passes began to go astray and the slick passing and movement that had got them into the lead seemed to be forgotten. There was far too much reliance on the long diagonal ball to the head of Jutkiewicz which played into the opposition hands and the head tennis that resulted suited the visitors. Blackburn grew into the game and carved out chances for Danny Graham and Jack Rodwell which were fielded by Camp. Blackburn looked the more accomplished as the half wore on and Blues were thankful to go into the break 1-0 up.
We were hoping that a stern talking to over a half time cuppa would galvanise Blues to go on and win the match. Unfortunately, it was more of the same and Blues completely failed to control the play, constantly coughing up possession and handing the initiative to Blackburn. The problem is with this league is that if a side is continually given possession, petty free kicks and corners chances will eventually come and just like against Bolton on Tuesday night, a corner was Birmingham’s undoing. The kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew was flat, inswinging and missed completely by everybody. I cannot remember the last time I saw a goal directly from a corner kick in a Sunday park game let alone a high level professional match. Where was the man supposedly guarding the near post? This sort of thing is what we call in medicine, a ‘never’ event; it simply should not happen ever. 1-1 and in fairness it had been coming and was no more than Blackburn deserved.
The momentum was all now with the visitors and I feared that a second would follow if Blues didn’t buck their ideas up. Birmingham did appear to recover their composure a little with about 20 minutes to go with the substitutions of Mrabti for Maghoma and Vassell for Jutkiewicz. Blues look so much better when they play the ball around on the floor and whilst using the height and strength of Jutkiewicz with the long ball can be an asset it is also one dimensional against tall rugged defenders and there has to be a balance. Just when Blues seemed to have regained control, Danny Graham popped up to score with a low shot into the bottom corner on 83 minutes after a good counter. Will and I were convinced that that, as they say, was that. A year to eighteen months ago it would certainly have been the case but within a couple of minutes parity was restored when a lovely through ball by Maxime Colin was seized upon by Che Adams. The young man was only a yard or so from the byline but managed to squeeze a pin point shot across Martin off the far post and in for 2-2.
Blues now had the wind in their sails and nearly won the game with a dipping free kick from Gary Gardner from 25 yards that the excellent Raya Martin clawed out the the top corner and round the post. Vassel also went close near the end but his effort was just wide. For reasons only he will know, Maxime Colin laid the ball off square in the box when well placed for the shot which probably constituted Blues best chance of snatching all three points at the end. There as still time for Bradley Dack to nearly settle the match in Blackburn’s favour right at the death but following a sweeping counter he was just over stretching to reach the cross and fortunately for Lee Camp the effort was just wide. The final whistle blew and a draw it was; the result was a fair one to end what turned out to be an entertaining game. It won’t get us nearer to the play offs but then again I never expected us to be anywhere near in any case. After the EFL ruling next week it’s likely to be a pipe dream anyhow. Vile next!
The Good: The braised beef at the Cookhouse this week.
The Bad: Yet again the level of service trying to get food and drink in the ground. Whilst waiting to be served there are staff in full view of everyone in the queue bumping their gums and ignoring customers. I’ve complained about the abysmal slow service before yet nothing happens to rectify it.
The Ugly: The goals we conceded.
Birmingham City: Lee Camp 5, Maxime Colin 6, Michael Morrison 6, Harlee Dean 6, Krystian Pedersen 6, Jota 5 (Conor Mahoney 70, 7) Jacques Maghoma 5 (Kerim Mrabti 57, 7) Mikael Kieftenbeld 7, Gary Gardner 7, Lukas Jutkiewicz 6 (Isaac Vassel 77, 7) Che Adams 8.
Subs not used: Connal Trueman, David Davis, Wes Harding, Craig Gardner.
Goals: Adams 16, 85.
Yellow cards: None.
Blackburn Rovers: David Raya Martin 8, Ryan Nyambe 6, Charlie Mulgrew 7, Jack Rodwell 7, Amari’i Bell 6, Richard Smallwood 6, Lewis Travis 6, Harrison Reed 7 (Adam Armstrong 67, 6) Bradley Dack 6, Elliott Bennett 7, Danny Graham 6.
Subs not used: Joe Rothwell, Jason Leutwiler, Ben Brereton, Joe Nuttall, Corry Evans, Craig Conway.
Goals: Mulgrew 52, Graham 83.
Yellow cards: Mulgrew 46, Smallwood 86.
Referee: Peter Bankes 7; I thought the referee had a solid game and got most things right. There was little that was contentious and that fact that there were only two yellow cards suggests this wasn’t a difficult game for the officials to control.