Birmingham City 1 - West Bromwich Albion 1
Albion were somewhat fortunate to come away from St Andrews with a point after a conceding a goal and a penalty in the first half against a side that has still not won a game this season.
Jota managed to squeeze the ball between Sam Johnstone and the post after 26 minutes, and a few minutes later a cross hit Kyle Bartley's outstretched arm and referee Andy Madley awarded a penalty. However, Jota's spot-kick was too easy for Johnstone to read and he made a comfortable save.
Matt Phillips levelled the scores six minutes before the break when a mazy run from the right cut through the Blues' defence with ease and beat Lee Camp at the near post. Both sides had chances in the second half, the best of which for Albion was Harvey Barnes hitting the crossbar, but the game ended with honours even.
Albion climbed to fifth place but will surely drop again after the rest of the weekend's games.
Wasn’t great was it? We really got away with one here.
I found the bench really disappointing with no place for Field or Harper given Morrison being missing again and centre mid being our weakness.
I thought Blues played it right with 2 up top to press our back 3 and their aggressive quick marking of Barnes.
It nullified us and the worry was that our coaches didn’t change it until very late having watched our back 3 and keeper have a nightmare on the ball, our midfield offered nothing and our top 3 showed zero initiative to get themselves into the game. Only Phillips had a decent game.
Another terrible goal against, another careless penalty conceded, another disappointing away result.
Our total lack of a plan B was a worry. We actually managed to get passes off through the middle when Barry came on but, had he started, we’d probably have overrun in his position as he’s virtually immobile these days.
We can’t simply rely on being a bit shambolic before Phillips, Barnes or Gayle score us out of trouble and I’m not sure this formation and system is worth the investment if our aim is promotion because if, by crazy chance that happens, we can’t play this way in the top flight.
Maybe it's the swinging and roundabouting of the Championship, or maybe we expect too much of an away game, however local, but that Albion performance (as seen on TV) looked worrying. 2 down early on but for the penalty save, and Birmingham's poor shot conversion "saving" three more with the defence beaten.
The defenders barely mustered a "5" between them with Dawson not quite right yet, Hegazi good one minute and not good the next (yikes....that pass)and Bartley...dear oh dear.
It was sometimes hard to find Brunt, Livermore and Rodriguez - he presumably played out of the game by a bright Birmingham group - not only because those red numbers on green & yellow are hard to see.
If Johnstone, Phillips, Barnes, Gayle get a sizeable tick, that's too few although both subs played better than those whom they replaced.
With a relatively immobile central midfield, neither screening the defence reliably nor charging forward threateningly, the issue is whether or not Albion can afford Barnes, Gayle and Rodriguez as opposed to having a Yacob-style play breaker-up, perhaps Barry.
Now surely is the time to find out which of the youngsters who can defend and/or play box to box can fare well starting in the first team, not leaving it until a later experiment.
The Team Who Cannot Score v The Team Who Cannot Defend
I predict if West Brom persist on playing the 3-5-2 formation then we will not get promoted. Don't get promoted and then you watch 'Cost Cutting Bean Counter' Jenkins take us down yet another level.
The stats tell us all about this stupid persistence of playing Hegazi, Bartley, and Dawson. No clean sheets in the league yet, even against a poor Blues attack that had only converted 8% of their chances prior to this game. If this belligerence is all down to Graeme Jones then Big Dave needs to show leadership and tell him its not working. Quite simply we are not Belgium so don't try and fit a system to players who cannot play it. For example, my wife asked me to cook sunday lunch last week. She won't again because I simply cannot do it.
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