My two sons were home for Christmas from University or at least Jonny my eldest was. Ben was still in Oxford and I resolved to pick him up on the way through along with all his dirty laundry and numerous possessions from the cesspit that is his flat which he shares with four others. The kitchen is a place where dark things live and David Attenborough could make a full documentary regarding the microbial wild life to be found throughout Ben’s dwelling. We moved on from Oxford to Baginton to pick up Chris and Little Jack. Will is still on the injury table having had his knee operated on for playing football at an age when decent folk have long since stated that enough is enough and was instead on childminding duty.
The weather was absolutely horrible as we drove down the A45 to St Andrews. We parked up in Arthur Street and made our way to the Royal George where I’m sorry to say that the hog roast wasn’t there as it was last week. Nevertheless a quick pint and it was into the ground. I’d bought two extra tickets for Jonny and Ben and had asked to move my seat for this match to be with them. The ticket office omitted to issue me with a ticket for this and my season ticket card was rejected so off to the ticket office I went with barely two minutes to go to kick off. A bloke came up to the queue and offered a free ticket as his mate hadn’t arrived and I gratefully took it rather than wait 20 minutes getting this mess of the club’s making sorted out.
Blues fielded a very young looking side with seven teenagers in it forced on Lee Clark because of injuries. Butland was between the sticks, with our back four comprising of Packwood, Cauldwell, Davies and Hancox with Hall, Reilly, Mullins, Morrison and Redmond in midfield supporting Zigic up top. Our ranks have been decimated of late and it wasn’t looking good when Burnley playing towards their own fans in the first half had three really good chances to score in the first quarter of the game. Martin Paterson should have put Burnley in front; his first effort, side-footed on the volley from a Kieran Trippier cross, led to a regulation save from Jack Butland when he should perhaps have done better and when slipped in by a clever through-ball from Ings, Paterson pulled his shot wide with only young Jack to beat. We were lucky to escape that opportunity but Burnley were in again following a great pass from Wallace which left him on-one with the 19-year-old keeper. Butland stuck out a hand to make a top-class save and miraculously the score remained even. Chris McCann also put two efforts over the top in between all this and I feared the worst. However, credit to the youngsters, they stuck to their task and with the aid of the more experienced players including Mullins who to his credit put in a decent performance for once, got a foothold in the game taking control for the rest of the half.
Rob Hall was leading McCann and Mills a merry dance down their left flank and both were booked for reckless challenges on the youngster. Mills was fortunate to stay on the pitch for his challenge; a real haymaker which led to the free kick taken by Hall onto the head of Curtis Davies who headed powerfully home on the half hour. Hope springs eternal as the lively young Blues side went in search of a second against a now rattled Burnley team. They couldn’t cope with the pacy wide men, Hall and Redmond and it looked good for the second period if more of the same could be conjured up. Burnley managed to stem the flow and gradually gained more control. Blues were lucky to have a perfectly good headed goal by Charlie Austin chalked off having blown up prematurely following a challenge on Trippier. Burnley got their deserved equaliser on 66 minutes. Marney whipped a right wing cross in towards the six-yard box where Ings got in ahead of Davies in similar fashion to the first of Palace’s goals last week; dreadful sloppy defending I’m afraid. Worse was to follow; straight from the kick off, Blues gave away a free kick thirty yards out. A wall was assembled, Butland got himself set but there was nothing he or anyone else could do as Rob Wallace fired a beauty of a shot over the wall, off the underside of the bar and in! A cracking strike and Blues found themselves 2-1 down in a game that they had played reasonably well in and had controlled for the most part apart from the first few minutes of the game.
Elliott and Burke came on for the tiring Hall and Ravel Morrison respectively and Blues surged forward in a desperate quest for an equaliser as Burnley started to drop off deep and hold on to what they had. I must confess I had doubts we would get anything from the game and I thought that we were going to lose for the fifth time at home against average opposition as we had done before. (Burnley fans; we are below average and that is the problem before any of you take umbrage. No offence is meant but you are mid table in a pretty run of the mill league this year) Birmingham City have one thing about them and that is they don’t give up and salvation came in the form of big Nikola Zigic in the final minute of the game when Chris Burke placed a lovely pass through to the big Serbian whom I maintain is far better on the ground than in the air. A composed shot under the keeper and Blues had the point their play deserved over the whole piece. They could have won it in the final minutes but 2-2 was a fair result in the end.
The Good: There is much to be positive about in our present adversity. The young players are being given their head in a situation forced upon the club by a list of injuries that would tax many a Premiership outfit. They did well against a far more experienced Burnley side. The game was a good one despite another scrambled draw at home and Burnley played their part in an entertaining spectacle. Their goals were well taken and their second a peach. Blues scored two crackers in keeping with the season so all round there was much to be pleased about. I think Blues will be alright going forward this season on resilience and spirit alone; there are worse teams than us fortunately.
The Bad: Sloppy defending for both goals; we will keep shipping them and not win games we should if this matter is not addressed although it is difficult to see how at present.
The Ugly: The weather; it was absolutely shocking and our thoughts must be with those people who have had floodwater invade their homes at this time of the year. May 2013 be better for them; football is put into realistic focus at times like this.
Birmingham City: Butland 7, Hancox 7, Hall 8 (Elliott 76, 7), Caldwell 5, Davies 6, Packwood 6, Mullins 7, Morrison 6 (Burhe 71, 6), Zigic 7, Redmond 7, Reilly.
Subs not used: Ibanez, Hawker, Gomis, Delfouneso, Doyle.
Goals: Davies 30, Zigic 89
Booked: Morrison 50, Davies 67, Mullins 74
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Lafferty, Duff, Shackell, Marney (Vokes 90), McCann, Ings (Bartley 88), Austin, Paterson (Treacy 63), Wallace. Subs: Stanislas, Edgar, Long, Jensen.
Goals: Ings 66, Wallace 68
Booked: McCann 15, Mills 29
Referee: Eddie Ilderton 5; This official had a mixed day. I felt he allowed the game to flow for the most part and then got whistle-happy at just the wrong times. He disallowed a perfectly good Burnley goal just before they scored and I am convinced Blues could have had a penalty in the second half for a trip on Redmond. The boy stayed on his feet and tried to play on to the by line to no advantage. The law should apply in the penalty area as to anywhere else on the pitch. Had Redmond gone down he would probably have been booked as the contact was not severe but he definitely got checked. When no advantage accrues a free kick should be given and if it is inside the area that free kick is a penalty; simples!!! Josh Mills was very lucky to only receive a yellow for his assault on Hall. Blues did at least score straight afterwards. For the most part the referee was fine but he lost the plot at bit in the last quarter of the match which was a pity.
Attendance: 17,284 (Burnley 375) A surprisingly good attendance considering the weather, our performances over the season to date and the fact that it was the last Saturday before Christmas.
Let’s hope we can have a better second half to our season. We will be nowhere near achieving anything other than survival for next year but a slightly more comnfortable position in the table would be nice.
Have a very Merry Christmas and Peaceful and Properous New Year fellow noses and to football fans of every persuasion everywhere. 😀
Keep Right On