View From The South – Southampton, Barnsley And Beyond

Here is Bazza’s match report from Saturday.

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Two wins in a week and we have to be satisfied. Thoroughly deserved and a duplicate of the Bristol City victory with perhaps a little less threat. The only moment of madness was once again in the first couple of minutes when a snap shot from about six yards was put wide. Having seen the replay of that incident it would have to have been hit with a lot more power and accuracy to beat Maik Taylor who appeared to have it covered. After that, Saints barely featured and the only surprising thing about this match was that Birmingham didn’t show their superiority with a more emphatic score line. Once again a combination of poor finishing, choice of wrong option, last ditch defending and a hint of misfortune resulted in Blues making heavy weather of this. However, a win is a win and three points a welcome reward.

The goal itself was the result of excellent work by Cameron Jerome who had a good match in my view. He drove across the edge of the box and supplied a square ball which Bowyer allowed to run onto Fahey whose side foot finish was very good indeed considering the state of the pitch which could easily have led to the ball bobbling over his foot or lifting at the vital moment to propel it into the Olympic Gallery! The goal arrived in stoppage time at the end of the first half and I am sure that everyone associated with Southampton will be cursing their misfortune in conceding so near to the break and as it was the only goal will argue they could have escaped with a point. This would be an injustice to Blues however. Southampton were never really in this game and should be thankful they weren’t on the wrong end of a 4 – 0 drubbing. One day somebody is going to get badly turned over by our lot – have faith mes braves!

A host of half chances came and went in the second period but the best fell to Costly who clean through with the whites of the goalie’s eyes in his sights inexplicably passed it square towards Jerome who had two defenders tracking him into the box! I still cannot understand why Costly didn’t hammer it. Surely, he stood more chance of scoring than his strike partner in such a situation? The other really good chance was created by a fabulous run by Scott Sinclair which was worth the admission price alone. He drove all the way from halfway inside his own half all the way into the penalty area before clipping the final shot against the angle of bar and post. It would have undoubtedly been goal of the season without question had it have entered the net as the run and attempt richly deserved.

So much for the game, there are peripheral issues of greater importance at this stage. Bent went off injured with a hamstring injury after only 16 minutes of the match hence the introduction of Costly. Jerome was also substituted with 15 minutes left with what I hope was only cramp. If more serious this will mean our only fully fit striker is Costly! Indeed it could be! We need some of our key players back and soon as the injury list is becoming unfunny. James McFadden and Gary O’Connor cannot be fit too soon for my liking and we may need to enact the recall clause for Gary McSheffrey from Forest sooner rather than later.

I am not someone who engages in hyperbole as a rule but I have no hesitation in suggesting that the week coming is probably the most important of the season. Our rivals, Reading and Wolves have home games coming up against opposition whom I expect they will both beat easily. It is imperative that we do not falter with games running out. Barnsley are always a tough nut to crack but they find themselves fourth from bottom albeit with a game or two in hand. They are there because in Championship terms they are not very good and we must beat them. Excuses such as injuries etc will not do. Whatever, team Birmingham field tomorrow night must find a way of carving out a win. We must not have a repeat of the dismal 1 – 0 defeat on Easter Monday two years ago when in a dreadful game we lost to the only chance Barnsley created through Daniel Nardiello. It wasn’t that we were bad; both sides were and the game became dull and attritional playing into the hands of inferior opponents. That game is emblazoned on my memory, so miserable was I on the long journey back to Surrey. Misery completed by Sunderland’s come back at Southampton from 1 – 0 down with only twelve minutes left. That was the moment I feel the title went away from us.

We have another tough match at the weekend against Doncaster who are in form; at least they were until they got turned over 3 – 0 at the weekend against Cardiff. They are a decent footballing side and had they not got off to an absolutely catastrophic start to their season they would be challenging for a play off spot. Next to Swansea they have played some of the best football I have seen from an opposing side this season. We were fortunate to steal the points at St Andrews earlier in the season and they cannot be underestimated.

Win these two games, as we should and we can start to believe.
KRO SOTV

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