Birmingham City 2 - West Bromwich Albion 0

Date: Friday 10th February 2023 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Button 1.5, Furlong 3.7, O'Shea 5.3, Pieters 4.6, Townsend 4.9 (Reach, 68 2.7), Molumby 4.1, Yokuslu 3.9 (Thomas-Asante, 55 5.3), Albrighton 4.2 (Swift, 55 4.7), Wallace 4.7, Diangana 3.5 (Chalobah, 55 4.3), Dike 2.7 (Grant, 68 3.0)
Unused subs: Ajayi, Griffiths
Manager: Carlos Corberán  3.5
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight) 4.6
Attendance: 17,781   Home Fans 4.9   Away Fans 6.2

Brendan Clegg:

Pretty hopeless performance but we were absolutely killed by our keeper here.

I wasn’t a fan of the lineup. Not sure how BTA and Swift keep missing out and whilst Wallace’s pace is useful through the middle he was our best player on the wing. We lose more than we gain from this setup.

I think we got what we expected. Blues played 2 up, went long, spoiled the game and wanted it more than us on what was a crap pitch at this level.

The first goal was a pub one - no way should a goalie get beaten there as good as the free kick was. He even got a weak hand to it.

The second after half time from his timid effort to punch a corner ended the contest.

We had too many players not up to it but the 2 goalkeeping calamities were the difference. At 0-0with 20 to go I might even have fancied us.

Delighted as I am CC signed the new deal I felt he got the lineup wrong and I can’t believe he left it as it was at half time. At least 4 players couldn’t have had any argument had they been hooked.

We have a serious problem in goal. I’ve seen outfield players cover the position I’ve had more confidence in and it’s clear that lack of faith gives the team the jitters. It’s going to jeopardise our play off chances as we will not keep clean sheets if he plays.

  • Button - 3 was actually calm at his feet but is a liability. Shouldn’t play again for us.
  • Furlong - 5 A poor night on the ball.
  • O’Shea and Pieters - 6 Did okay against Brum’s physical players and under a lot of pressure.
  • Townsend - 6 Battled away and missed when withdrawn.
  • Yokuslu - 6 struggled as they swarmed him but battled
  • Molumby - 5 Outrun and really poor under pressure
  • Albrighton- 5 Never in it. Couldn’t get the ball.
  • Wallace - 6 Lots of running but no threat/well marshalled
  • Diagana - 5 Way too lightweight. Didn’t look after the ball.
  • Dike - 4 So poor in every aspect. Not sure how he gets starts right now.
  • Asante- 7 Not great quality wise but energy desire and pace are miles ahead of others.
  • Swift - 6 Some sloppy play but needs to start games again as we’re creating rustiness in his game by limiting his minutes… as we are with BTA.
  • Chalobah - 6 Did alright but sloppy at times.
  • Grant - 5 Very little impact
  • Reach - 5 Ropey... added nothing

Kev Buckley:

Time for a rethink: Bluenoses 2 Albion 0

It might be time for a bit of a re-think as regards the starting XI, after the Bluenoses bossed the game from the off. albeit scoring both their two goals as a result of goalkeeping howlers.

An unchanged starting line-up saw Dike up front with right-winger Wallace playing as the playmaker, but it just didn't work. The former can't seem to hold the ball up, should we have to go long to break a press, and the latter doesn't seem to be the pivot through which the rest of the 'front four" can get brought into the game.

Having said that, none of the back six, nor Button, seemed able to get the ball to any of those front four, with Diangana and Albrighton often having to start dribbling from deep inside their own half in an attempt to make things happen, only to find no movement ahead of them and eventually being crowded out.

The home side started pressing from the off and should have been ahead within the first five minutes via an unchallenged back post header, from a corner, that somehow ended up over the bar.

Within ten minutes though they would go ahead, having won a free-kick, some thirty yards out, in line with the left-hand side of our penalty box. Pretty much all the Albion defenders, bar one in line with the left-hand post, lined up to the right, whilst Button stood centrally, presumably expecting a floated delivery, but Birmingham's Tunisian ManU loanee simply curled the ball inside the left-hand post with Button's "oh-shit" scramble and dive getting him nowhere near it.

Dike would finally get into the game some ten minutes after that, but even then that was a chase of an underhit back-pass, rather than as a result of anything coming from our posession, and shortly after that, there was a perfect example of our inability to create anything, with Yokuslu, in posession on the centre-spot for what seemed like ages, not having any movement ahead of him and eventually being closed down and coughing up the ball.

The Blues, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem working the ball all the way up the pitch around the thirty minute mark, having got the ball back on the edge of their box, a move which saw Button pushing away the resulting drive from his right-hand post.

Nothing was changed at the break, and so nothing really changed after it, except that from a corner within five of six minutes of that half's kick-off, the home side did score, this time from a header from the middle of the goal, with Button coming, jumping, flapping, and getting even less close to the ball than he had for the first.

Corberan was readying a triple substitution, and so it's tempting to excuse yet another misplaced pass from O'Shea, this one going behind its recipient and out for a throw, as an attempt to produce a break in play and get them on as quickly as possible, but the subs didn't come on until a couple of minutes later, so I'm afraid it has to be viewed as another abject failure to find a team-mate with a pass.

The triple substitution, Chalobah, Swift and BTA, for Yokuslu (on a card by then), and both starting wingers, saw us going two up front, and although Wallace, the right-winger playing as playmaker moved back out to the right-wing, Swift, usually the playmaker, ended up playing as the left-winger.

Surely this constant playing players out of position can't be as obvious as something akin to "but if we play our players in their best positions, it's what the opposition will be expecting", can it? I think we've dicked around enough now that an opposition won't be expecting that!

Going two up top didn't really see us create all that much more, nor stop the home side pushing up, although Swift did cut in from the left and win a corner after his right-footed shot got a deflection and caused the Birmingham keeper to push it behind. That, coming as it did, just after the hour, might even have been our first, and only, shot on target.

I think that most Albion fans know, by now, that when Reach and Grant have to be brought on, it's pretty much game over, and so it was in this one, with there still being around twenty to go when the double change occured, and although the former was replacing Townsend, who was clearly a bit battered and brusied by that point, Grant for Dike was very much like for like, in that I can't recall Grant touching the ball, let alone affecting the game, although he was being asked to be both a striker and play on the right, neither of which attribute he's often been praised for.

Even allowing for the very high intensity of the home side, the woeful inaccurcy of our passing all night, added to way too many awful first touches simply made it easy for them to stop us creating, and it probably didn't help matters that Molumby, who had been putting in decent showings, was anonymous on the night. Then again, Chalobah, on that showing, hardly looks like he's going to be pushing either of the centre-mid starters, so maybe Rogic and Livermore, who haven;t even made the bench of late, shouldn't be hanging up their boots just yet.

For all the talk of needing to give Dike game-time, and not wanting to drop Wallace so as give Albrighton the right-wing start, I think it's time to go back to Swift as the ten, BTA as the nine, and decide whether you want to start Wallace or Albrigton on the right, or, more likely, given how much he's been messed around, forget that Diangana is (was?) a left-winger and start them both, with Albrigton reprising his left-sided role for Leicester.

Something needs to change though: the starting Xi were never in this game.