Birmingham City 3 - West Bromwich Albion 1
Such an annoying one that. We’ve played worse and won games but also we were so frustratingly patient when things went against us, almost too calm and controlled when we needed to go for it. Argh… more points chucked away.
No complaints with the lineup - it was the team that put Preston to the sword.
And for the opening 20 we were so comfortable… really good goal, pressing high, in control and limiting them to little.
Swift and Grady combined for the opener and we looked on our way.
The inexplicable penalty against us definitely gave them a lift but there was so much game to play. It was a rotten decision and an injustice but there was enough time to start again.
We were still on top when they scored again. This time I thought Blues were clever… changing the angle of the cross from the corner to cause issues with our zonal marking, and almost playing for chaos on the second ball. We fell into the trap and fell asleep.
Still, there was a full half to have a go in. Pieters had looked like he was struggling so Townsend made sense coming in, but as I mentioned we were so slow and inviting Blues to press us when they didn’t need to.
So, as in the first half, we moved it really well in areas that didn’t hurt them and looked to work perfect openings without giving Ruddy a save to make, whereas Blues showed more intent to attack with purpose.
When we eventually worked probably the best opening of the game, Furlong couldn’t convert from 8 yards although I suspect he’d hit the target there and score 8 out of 10 times.
As we hugged and puffed and subs came we couldn’t make anything really happen, and it summed our night up that Blues got and converted well a free kick with 3 minutes to go that was soft, probably not even a foul and certainly not a booking.
There was still time for another call to go against us. I’m certainly not one for soft penalties being given but we had a late appeal ignored when their player clearly jumped and blocked a free kick with his arm whilst standing in the wall, 10 yards away from the taker. By that stage it wouldn’t have changed the result but it just kind of cemented the feeling that it wasn’t our night.
Overall it’s disappointing. We played well in parts and in areas but we’ve lost a game we could easily have won and we seem to have little answer when going behind or when things aren’t happening for us. We need a maverick plan B solution within the available squad we have, like putting Ajayi up front and getting people running off him.
But as we head into the break we’re probably where we thought we’d be… mid table but capable of a top 6 finish with good fortune and keeping everyone fit, and when we have 3 games in a week it’s a bridge too far for a squad without our 2 main summer signings.
Following the Baggies is a frustrating experience. After 20 minutes of last nights game I thought that at last Corberan had a system that worked looking solid and efficient especially in the light of the unavailability of any height or power in a central attacking position.
A diabolical refereeing decision turned the match on its head and gave the Blues the inspiration they sadly lacked.
The referee seemed to be badly sighted as it was clear that Myoshi had already lost his footing causing an inevitable coming together which should have resulted in a corner.
Poor defending led to a second, a trend that seems endemic in the Albion defence. Give the Albion credit they still bossed most of the second half but without the power of a target man plus Furlongs monumental miss the inevitable was on the cards.
The level of injuries to key players is now becoming critical and unless our luck changes mid table is the best we can hope for.
Three goals out of nothing fail to fire up the "derby"
My first full game watch of the "strikerless" line-up and I'm not sure I have much more clue as to what it's supposed to achieve, indeed with Swift's left foot pretty much being for standing on only, and so hardly ever seeing him likely to offer us any width on the left, let alone delivery from there, and Diangana being wasted somewhere over on the right, it had more of a feel of a 352 than the 343 most graphics made it out to be.
Whilst the commentary team were trying tp build it up as being a "blood and thunder" derby, the inability of the Blues to build up large parts of their ground meant that a lot of the play took place with no spectators close enough to fire up the players.
Slightly odd too to see the Albion playing away in their home kit, rather than their third "fizzy lime" strip, because of the away strip's clash with the blue of the Blooze.
After a fairly cagey start, with neither side really getting in to the "derby" spirit of the fixture, and being content to knock short passes around, Diangana rolled a ball across to Swift, some twenty-five yards out and central, and, with the Blooze back-line strung across the edge of area in front of him, the nominal left winger calmly side-footed the ball, first-time, so that it curled around the dive of Ruddy, to strike the inside of the post and end up in the back of the net. A goal out of nothing, if ever there was.
Both sides seemed to carry on making short passes but rarely creating chances until an unmarked header from a Blues corner was directed off target: perhaps a warning that should not have gone unheeded: but more of that later.
With twenty or so only on the clock, Kipre lost the ball upfield and the Blues attacked into the hole he'd left down our right side, however he seemed to have gotten back to make a decent, in the box, challenge. as the attacker mis-controlled the ball whilst slipping anyway, however the ref saw enough, or maybe didn't see enough, and neither pointed to the corner flag, nor to the corner of the six-yard box for a goal-kick, but to the penalty spot, and the goal-bound kick from there drew the home side level.
Five minutes later and Mowatt had a free header from the spot at the other end but somehow managed to head it down, rather than towards the goal.
With about ten to go to the break, the ever-lively Bacuna cut in from their right and got off a shot that hit Bartley but fortunately went out for a corner. Unfortunately, Albion never really cleared their lines and when a cross was swung back in from left, every Albion defender seemed to be coming out with no regard to any of the players they might have been marking at the original set-piece, and yet another unchallanged header, at our back post, saw the ball guided over and back across Palmer to give the Blooze the lead.
Corberan brought on Townsend for Pieters at half-time but the change didn't seem to see a swap to the back-four it might have implied.
As the hour approached, Phillips delivered a lovely left-footed cross which found Furlong arriving at the back post, but although he did well to keep the ball down as it reached him, he somehow pulled it wide of the post it had just come across from.
The next ten minutes were notable for nothing other than a few substitutions: Chalobah and BTA for Yokulsu and Wallace, the latter having been so false a number nine as to have not really been noticeable at all, for us, and then Olly Burke, currently back in the West Midlands from Germnay, on loan from Werder Bremen, for them, and finally Fellows for Swift after the latter went down injured, although the former didn't seem to be asked to play in Swift's nominal role on the left, and did manage to get off a few crosses from the right, which suggest it can't be long before he gets asked to play somewhere else.
With four to go of normal time, Kipre gave away a nothing foul, although it was enough of a nothing for the ref to book him, and from around twenty yards out and central, Gary Gardner curled one over the wall and beyond the hand of Palmer as he tried to cover the "empty" side of the goal. Again though, pretty much a goal out of nothing on a night that had nothing much on goal.
Although that was pretty much game over, Palmer would still pull off a fine save to keep it to three as Pipa, on for Furlong, tried his best to deflect a cross from Burke into his own net.
It'd be tempting to say that the soft pen took the wind out of our sails after we had gone ahead but, in all honesty, I don't think the Albion ever really deployed anything close to a full sail throughout the whole game, but then again neither did the Blooze, although I did feel that when then passed the ball, they more often played it slightly ahead of the intended recipient, which thus saw them going forwards almost immediately, whereas Albion's passing was always direct to feet, which meant that the reciever was standing still for his first touch and that just slowed everything down for us. %p Having watched a whole game though, I still think Corberan is "wasting" the real talents of Wallace, Diangana and Swift by playing them where he does, and in the formation he does: why not - if you are commited to trying to fashion a front three out of a left-winger, a right-winger and a right-footed number ten - play Diangana on the left, Wallace on the right and Swift through the centre and let them do what they are good at?
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