At last the sun and a bit of good weather arrived just in time for the Easter weekend. May I take this opportunity to wish all those who bother to read my blog reports a very Happy Easter and may your bunny be generous! 😀
I was up quite early as I am the only lark in the family and pottered about doing little odd jobs before realising that time hadn’t waited for me and it was time to make for the train. In truth I’d left it a bit tight but walking briskly I was going to be fine. Chris rang me on the way and detected that I was blowing a bit so suggested I get on the train and ring him back. I got to the station with six minutes to spare but the ticket machine was out of order. I decided to risk crossing the bridge to the other one and arrived just as another passenger beat me to it. He was swift enough with his transaction but the rate determining step is the dot matrix printer for the tickets. I find it incredible that we still have such technology on our rail system in the 21st century! My tickets duly delivered I had about sixty seconds to get back over the bridge. I made the train doors with nothing to spare.
Crisis over, I called Chris to tell him to pick me up at Leamington Spa instead of Coventry. Engineering works were clarting up the time table and getting to Coventry was going to be a bit of a five act play. The train was a little late getting into Reading but only by about ten minutes, otherwise, things went according to plan and I arrived at Leamington about 12.30. It was back to Baginton for a pint and to meet up with Will and his family. Little Jack and young Seb were with their paternal grandparents and would not be joining us for the game. Emma, their Mum however, spared parental responsibility temporarily was able to come to the game and moreover volunteer as designated driver! Easter eggs delivered to the kids, it was soon time to set off for St Andrews. Derby presented a stiff challenge and would be going for it given their play off ambitions. They have been solid and consistent under Frank Lampard but there was no reason for fear.
Blues got off to a great start with a goal after only two minutes when a corner from the left was half-volleyed just inside the far post by Lukas Jutkiewicz whom the Derby defence had completely failed to track. On a warm sunbathed afternoon, the carnival atmosphere was soon dampened when six minutes later Derby were level. I have to say I thought Martyn Waghorn was offside when he received a through ball from Jayden Bogle. The lob over a stranded Lee Camp from 25 yards was a beautiful finish however but if Derby had defended badly from the corner, this was worse from Blues. Blues regained the lead from another corner when Morrison pounced on a loose ball when the visitors failed to clear a header back across goal from Gary Gardner that keeper Kelle Roos could only parry. The inability to defend set pieces was catching and once again the lead was surrendered when a Derby corner taken short to Ashley Cole was too easily allowed to be whipped into the box for Richard Keogh to score with an unchallenged header at the far post on 28 minutes. 2-2 and barely a third of the game gone. Things calmed down a bit after the flurry of scoring although Blues had captain Michael Morrison to thank for a perfectly executed tackle to stop Tom Lawrence putting the Rams ahead against the run of play.
The second half was well contested by both sides but Birmingham had more than enough chances to have secured all the points. Che Adams was put through clear on goal by Jota having his best game for a while but the young striker failed to capitalise when Cole got back to block on 49 minutes. Just under the hour, Jota’s inswinging corner on to the head of Jutkiewicz crashed off the inside of the post; Harlee Dean was unable to convert the rebound and after a frantic scramble, the referee blew for a relieving free kick to the visitors. The game was an entertaining one and both sides had spells when they were on top. Blues however looked the more likely to nick it but Derby came very close to mugging the points when Fikayo Tomori brought down a lofted ball into the box and fired his shot goalwards. Lee Camp made a brilliant save to deny the Derby defender and the latter’s follow up header was also saved before Pedersen’s final clearance to roars of approval from the St Andrews crowd. It would have been a gross injustice had Derby taken the lead and the missed chances earlier would have been a source of great regret but fortunately, Blues survived this scare with only two minutes left.
Blues had the last word with a flowing move that culminated in Maghoma driving into the box to square the ball for Adams whose shot was blocked by Ashley Cole; believed by many at the Tilton with his hand. I am bound to say, it looked a decent shout from where I was sitting but the referee dismissed the appeals. A further penalty appeal was also waved off a minute later and despite intense pressure on the Rams in the last five minutes of time added on, Blues had to settle for a draw which over the whole piece was probably fair.
The Good: The match; it was entertaining, eminently watchable on a sun drenched afternoon. The cottage pie, mushed peas and pesto sauce at the Cookhouse was excellent.
The Bad: Slow, awful service for food and drink again. Such a pity because the product is of good quality and with better faster service commercially a winner.
The Ugly: Will’s mood; he was in a right grump! I did warn him years ago that that was what comes of having kids! 😉
Birmingham City: Lee Camp 7, Maxime Colin 7, Michael Morrison 7, Harlee Dean 6, Krystian Pedersen 7, Jota 8, Jacques Maghoma 6, David Davis 7, Gary Gardner 7, Lukas Jutkiewicz 8, (Isaac Vassell 79, 7) Che Adams 7.
Subs not used: Connal Trueman, Kerim Mrabti, Wes Harding, Craig Gardner Charlie Lakin, Marc Roberts.
Goals: Jutkiewicz 2, Morrison 18.
Yellow cards: Gardner 38, Jutkiewicz 56, Adams 90 + 2.
Derby County: Kelle Roos 7, Jayden Bogle 6, Keogh 7, Fikayo Tomori 6, Ashley Cole 6, Craig Bryson 7, Bradley Johnson 7, Mason Mount 6, Tom Lawrence (David Nugent 84, N/A) Martyn Waghorn 7 (Jack Marriott 71, 6) Harry Wilson 6 (Mason Bennett 71, 6)
Subs not used: Wisdom, Evans, Tom Huddlestone, Carson.
Goals: Waghorn 8, Keogh 28.
Yellow cards: Bryson 45 + 2, Waghorn 48, Cole 66.
Referee: Simon Hooper: 5; I thought Mr Hooper was reasonably solid throughout but there was noticeable inconsistency shown particularly with the handing out of yellow cards. Gardner was rightly booked for a cynical challenge but it was no different to two others committed by Derby players just before it. I would need to see the incident again but I felt Blues should have been awarded a penalty right at the end for Ashley Cole’s block of Che Adam’s goal bound shot; it looked hand ball to me.
Attendance: 23,902 (2,978 away)