It was very strange setting off for football so early but I tend to wake up at 06.30 at weekends just the same as a work day anyway. So it was breakfast, walk the dog and set off to meet up with Will for the journey north from Guildford by 09.00. On the way up the M40 another mate of ours, Rob called up and we got talking about all things Blue, the prospects for other teams in the Championship and the subject of Carson Yeung came up. The jokes were in full flow before long and it was suggested that when our owner appeared in the dock that Dan from Often Partizan and The Tilton Strugglers should break into a refrain of ‘Keep Right On to the End of the Road’ along with a Mexican wave and when his name is announced shout ‘Whoooo!’ From the gallery 😀 Other songs were made up including ‘We can see you, we can see you, see you picking up the soap!’ to which Rob interjected ‘man on!’ Gives that one a whole new meaning doesn’t it? Assuming that the boys out in Hong Kong hadn’t been ejected for contempt of court, they could add in ‘You’re going down with the Dingles!’ It’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re having fun and in no time at all we arrived at Chris’ pub for a bacon sandwich and a big mug of tea; touched the spot perfectly and soon it was time to get on the road to St Andrews. Whilst we would all prefer to be battling at the top end of the league, at least we were safe before play and frankly we were all fairly indifferent to the result and were just out to enjoy the day. At least we weren’t in the position of Wolves.
Lee Clark was forced to make some changes to the line up at Ipswich with the unfortunate training ground injury to Mitch Hancox. Shane Ferguson was switched to full back with Nathan Redmond in front of him. Chris Burke came in wide on the right. Zigic continued up top on his own with Ravel Morrison playing just behind him. Mogaro Gomis was recalled and Wade Elliott continued as part of a central three. Morgaro Gomis impressed me all afternoon breaking up opposition play but was one of the first to offer an attacking threat when his long-range left-footed effort swerved narrowly wide within the opening minute. The contest settled down quickly with both teams playing some neat attractive football without troubling the keepers too much. Paul Caddis forced Grzegorz Sandomierski into a routine save before Morten Gamst Pedersen, in plenty of space on the right, fired off target at the other end. Nikola Zigic found himself in a good position for Birmingham midway through the first half but could only hit the side-netting from close range.
Caddis nearly gifted Blackburn a goal with a dreadful back pass and he had Butland to thank for a superb save at the feet of the incoming Rhodes. It is saves like that that will be sorely missed next season when he moves to Stoke next term. Blues were lucky but had Blackburn scored it would have been against the run of play in fairness. At the other end,
Sandomierski got down well to his right to tip Nathan Redmond’s low shot around a post. Blues over the piece looked the better side and continued to press. Chris Burke came close by firing narrowly wide. Birmingham finally broke the deadlock when they deservedly scored just before half-time. Morrison who showed wonderful skill and touch all game but again was at times guilty of over elaboration nevertheless weaved his way into the area past several bemused defenders burying a lovely cross shot into the bottom corner past the diving figure of Sandomierski on 42 minutes. 1-0 was not enough and should have been more. Blues were to pay for missed opportunities and continued failure to add to their tally was punished by the visitors in the 66th minute. The afternoon was a bright sunny one but there was a cool breeze which those of my age know plays havoc with the bladder. I could wait no longer and made my way up to the back of the stand just as Blackburn gained a throw in near the Gil Merrick end on the Kop side. Before disappearing, I turned to see Pedersen’s long throw flicked on by Grant Hanley. Butland did well to save from David Jones and the young keeper had every right to expect one of his defenders to complete the clearance but Jordan Rhodes of all people was first to the rebound and there was only one outcome as he headed home the rebound. The goal summed up everything that has gone wrong this season on the pitch; lack of concentration, poor application of basics and a lot of hard work undone in an instant. Blackburn scored from a throw in for heavens sake!
Birmingham tried hard to repair the damage and retake the lead but Blackburn defended well and had moments of their own so it could have been worse. Blues got in good positions through Morrison, Redmond and Burke but poor decision-making, lack of quality in the final third and lack of commitment of the midfielders to get into goal scoring positions when opportunities presented themselves meant that the match petered out into a draw. In all honesty, neither side quite did enough to win this game and Blackburn’s efforts, especially in the second half were worthy of a share of the spoils.
The Good: the game; considering it was the last one of the season and neither side had anything to play for, it wasn’t half bad. Decent match and in the end a fair result.
The Bad: The catering; once again Blues never fail to disappoint with the slowness of the service. At half time we got nowhere near the front of the queue before it was time to return to our seats for the second half. Lost revenue for the club and we weren’t alone.
The Ugly: the two foul mouthed drunks a few rows in front of us who spoiled what should have been a pleasant afternoon out. Bad language and banter is part of football; let’s face it but gratuitous swearing for the sake of it when there are families with young children nearby is totally uncalled for.
Birmingham City: Jack Butland 7 Paul Caddis 7 Paul Robinson 7 Curtis Davies 7 Shane Ferguson 7 Nathan Redmond 7 Ravel Morrison 7 Wade Elliott 6 Morgaro Gomis 8 (Callum Reilly 73, 6) Chris Burke 7 Nikola Zigic 6
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Steven Cauldwell, Koby Arthur, Asante, Oliver Lee, Hayden Mullins.
Blackburn Rovers: Grzegorz Sandomierski 7 Todd Kane 7 Scott Dann 7 Grant Hanley 7 Lee Williamson 6 (Cameron Stewart 46, 6) Morten Gamst Pedersen 7 Joshua King 8 Josh Morris 6 David Goodwillie 6 (John O’Sullivan 76, 6) David Jones 7 Jordan Rhodes 7
Subs not used: Karim Rekik, Miguel Nuno Gomes, Matthew Urwin, Gael Givet, David Bentley.
Referee: Andy D’Urso 7; Fair performance and often the mark of a good official is how little you notice him. This would have been one of Mr D’Urso’s easier games to manage this season I suspect.