West Bromwich Albion 3 - Birmingham City 2

Date: Friday 29th March 2019 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
WBA:
6.3
Johnstone 6.0, Holgate 6.0, Dawson 5.5, Hegazi 7.5, Townsend 6.4, Brunt 6.6, Livermore 6.5, Morrison 5.0 (Robson-Kanu, 46 6.8), Edwards 6.1 (Murphy, 72 4.6), Rodriguez 6.0 (Bartley, 94 5.7), Gayle 6.7
Unused subs: Bond, Johansen, Mears, Harper
Manager: James Shan (c) 6.7
Birmingham:
5.8
Scorers: Gayle (47), Rodriguez (65 pen), Livermore (72)
Referee: David Webb 4.9
Attendance: 24,789   Home Fans 7.0   Away Fans 6.8
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 25

Brendan Clegg:

When I saw the starting lineup I thought it would be a gritty win for us but was generally happy with the team given Phillips & Gibbs didn’t make it. The atmosphere was brilliant before kick-off, Blues in fine voice too.

Unfortunately it was evident almost straight away that Shan had made some unnecessary tactical calls.

I had expected 4-1-4-1 with Brunt sitting behind Mozza and Livermore with Edwards right and JRod left. Instead it was more 4-4-1-1 with Morrison on the right wing for the first time since about 2008 and Edwards inexplicably out of position on the left after such a good showing on the right in his last game.

It gave us a big problem on the right with Mozza nowhere near quick enough to play there and physically weak on the left with man-boy Townsend and the young Edwards.

Blues were solid, simple and effective, taking the lead through a corner and then looking the side more likely to score.

What angered me is it was so obvious but Shan didn’t change a thing. Inevitably Morrison drifted inside and actually showed decent touches on the ball from there but it left us wide open defensively and toothless in attack on that wing.

Despite it being a turgid half we had 3 big chances to score but Gayle missed a couple of routine headers and Rodriguez was equally as poor with one that came his way.

We could’ve changed a number of things at halftime. Shan went HRK for Mozza - we were better for it from the off. Straight away we were at them and dominant. The early goal from a great Brunt set play was perfect and it looked like there’d only be one winner before Hegazi went down injured and Blues scored with him off the pitch from another corner. We looked weak all over but where was Johnstone?

Despite this setback we got another goal through a dubious penalty after great work from Edwards and Townsend, both of whom grew into the game.

The winner was, literally, a one in a hundred edge of the box smash from Livermore (possibly the worst striker of a ball from distance to ever play for England?) and triggered delirium.

We held on to see the result out and might have scored more with more composure, having discovered a bit of defensive steel.

At least Shan didn’t leave it too late. Another game proving almost laughably for those of us who have always believed it, that this is a poor league and this squad played within a sensible system without all silliness, experimentation or obsession with being tactically clever could win automatic promotion with pretty much any manager and combination of players in their natural roles. Too late now though?

  • SJ - 6 Not his most commanding display.
  • Holgate - 5 Had a bit of a shocker and looked unusually lacking in confidence.
  • Dawson - 5 Dived in, leggy, sliding all over the place. Going downhill fast.
  • Hegazi - 7 Solid, good on the ball. Hitting levels of consistency now that will make him a coveted player.
  • Townsend - 6 Cant knock the kid, never gives in, leaves it all on the pitch, great skill for penalty, vulnerable defensively.
  • Brunt - 7 Another game where he was too hit happy and leggy early but his sheer determination to fight and set plays drove us on as the game developed.
  • Mozza - 5 Crazy decision to play him there. Thought his flashes through the middle were decent.
  • JRod - 5 Apart from the penalty he was diabolical.
  • Livermore - 6 Great goal. All muscle and effort, no brains.
  • Edwards - 7 I thought he was our brightest player in open play even out of position. Great feet and change of pace.
  • Gayle - 6 Got the goal, always a threat even when not playing well. We’re a different team with him through the middle.
  • HRK - 7 Perfecting that unique false-9-target-man-On-the-wing thing. Won loads of free kicks.
  • Murphy - He might well have run for the ball. Don’t tell anyone.