This was going to be a packed weekend. In addition to the match I was attending the surprise birthday party of Gayle, Chris’s wife in the evening at the Baginton Oak and on Sunday Mrs Bazza and I were taking my disabled cousin, Janet out for her birthday in Sutton Coldfield. On this occasion therefore I drove up to Baginton and met up with Chris and Will and his family. Chris as still rushing round and getting things prepared for the party when it was time to leave for the game so Will, little Will, little Jack and yours truly went on ahead. Being away fans we came in to the ground down the M6 through town and into Garrison Lane before parking up.
It was a peculiar feeling entering the ground through the Gil Merrick turnstiles and ascending the stairs to the upper tier. The view up there is spectacular and by kick off time apart from empty segregation areas the old stadium was full. I have to say it was a cracking atmosphere with loud good natured banter. I actually got a chant of “who are ya!” started but my favourite of the afternoon was “who’s the w****r, who’s the w****r, who’s the w****r in my seat?” All that was needed was for the match to live up to the vibe in the ground.
Coventry bedecked in their home sky blue kit and Blues in yellow shirts and dark blue shorts, the match kicked off. Blues did have the ball in the net after only four minutes following a run and cross from the right by Kerim Mrabti in towards Lukas Jutkiewicz but the big striker was ruled to have fouled Coventry keeper Marko Marosi much to the relief of the Coventry supporters behind the Tilton goal. Birmingham were on the front foot in the early stages and from a corner Harlee Dean headed just wide. Jutkiewicz had another chance to open the scoring a couple of minutes later when a clipped pass from Krystian Pedersen to the striker whose shot was mishit first time and struck straight at Marosi at the second attempt. Coventry did start to get into the game as the half wore on and after a well worked flowing move got Jordan Shipley in behind us. His close range shot was deflected by Lee Camp into the side netting for a corner.
Coventry were struggling to cope with the pace and trickery of Jefferson Montero down the left flank but the problem was the final delivery into the box was severely lacking. Jude Bellingham attempted a half volley from one such delivery but his effort was well wide. The first half overall was reasonably entertaining with some nice football played by both sides but chances were very few and far between and there was little goalmouth excitement. The sides turned round 0-0 with Blues playing towards the Gil Merrick stand in the second half. The first half had promised an entertaining second period with both sides going for the win but in truth it was anything but. Chris had managed to join us about ten minutes after kick off but was still clearly agitated about the amount he still had left to do back at the pub. He decided to leave again at half time. He was happy to have sampled the atmosphere but felt he had to get back. In all honesty, I wish I’d joined him! Birmingham were very poor in the second half and their only decent contribution of note was a volley from Jefferson Montero within a minute of the restart which was flying into the top corner until Morosi parried it over for a corner. That was as good as it got for Blues I’m afraid. Coventry were the better side in the second half but what openings they did carve out they wasted with poor shooting.
However, Coventry looked the more likely to score and frankly looked as if they wanted the win more. Blues play disintegrated into hopeful hoofing up the pitch towards Jutkiewicz and the play became predictable and one dimensional. Coventry were playing what football there was. Sunjic slid in with a superb tackle half way through the half when Biamou was about to pull the trigger 15 yards out in an excellent position to score. Biamou did get in again on 77 minutes and his fierce shot bound for the bottom corner was well saved by Camp to keep the scores level. Coventry continued to probe against a stubbornly resistant Blues rearguard but the best chance of the game came in time added on. A lovely cross to the back post from Liam Walsh was met by the head of Amadou Bakayoko. The header stranded Camp and waiting at the opposite side of the goal two yards out for a tap in was Callum O’Hare. He appeared to get his feet in a muddle and the ball squirted wide of the post. What a miss and what a lucky escape for Blues! Had the Sky Blue man scored Birmingham could not have complained. They were very poor in the second half and are fortunate to have a replay back at St Andrew’s in ten days time; at least I’ll get my seat back! 😀
The Good: The atmosphere contributed to by both sets of supporters.
The Bad: No Cookhouse in the away end!
The Ugly: Blues performance, particularly second half; if you’re going to play hoofball at least do it properly.
Coventry City: Marko Marosi 6, Dom Hyam 6, Kyle McFadzean 7, Michael Rose 7, Fankaty Dabo 6, Liam Walsh 6, Liam Kelly 6, Jordan Shipley 6 (Callum O’Hare 68, 5) Zain Westbrooke 6 (Max Biamou 68, 7) Matt Godden 5 (Amadou Bakayoko 81, N/A)
Subs not used: Brandon Mason, Jamie Allen, Josh Pask, Ben Wilson.
Birmingham City: Lee Camp 7, Maxime Colin 6, Harlee Dean 6, Jake Clarke-Salter 7, Krystian Pedersen 7, Josh McEachran 5, Ivan Sunjic 6, Jefferson Montero 5 (Jacques Maghoma 85, N/A) Kerim Mrabti 5 (Jeremie Bela 56, 6) Jude Bellingham 6 (Gary Gardner 85, N/A) Lukas Jutkiewicz 7.
Subs not used: Marc Roberts, David Davis, Alvaro Gimenez, Ramos.
Bookings: Pedersen 87, Clarke-Salter 88, Jutkiewicz 90 + 1.
Referee: Tim Robinson 7: I thought Mr Robinson had a solid match along with his two assistants Adrian Waters and Matthew McGrath. There was an especially relevant moment when Jutkiewicz was booked. Yes he did push an opponent’s head down as he tried to free himself from his grasp and the Coventry player made more of it than there was. Some officials would have over-reacted and Will was convinced Mr Robinson was going to reach for a red card. I suggested that it was a yellow card and nothing more and after a discussion with his assistant, the sensible decision was made and a yellow sanction produced. The referee was certainly not at fault for the dross dished up in the second half by our lot!
Attendance: 21,193 (9,435 away fans 😀 )