On Friday I had to come up to Sutton Coldfield on work related business on Thursday evening and it meant that I spent a couple of nights at Chris’ pub at the Oak at Baginton where he has about 14 rooms. It was good to spend time with friends, spoil myself with a full English breakfast for a couple of days and after doing what I had to do on Friday a group of about twenty of us played a Texas scramble golf tournament on Saturday morning in memory of a mate of ours who sadly left us last year from heart disease. We teed off about nine o’clock and got away after the prizes had been handed out at about half one. We ran into a little bit of traffic and we missed about the first six minutes or so of the game but it was still 0-0 so we assumed we hadn’t missed much. However, I understand that Robert Tesche had already had a shot pushed onto a post by Henderson in the Charlton goal about two minutes before our arrival and Blues continued to dominate the game throughout and thoroughly deserved the victory they eventually achieved eight minutes from time through the unlikely figure of Lloyd Dyer. Just as we had been under the cosh on Wednesday at Reading to grab the points in an act of blatant theft, we totally bossed this match and the danger was that we might have had the same fate as the Royals to endure. Fortunately, justice was done in the end and it could have been more comfortable.
Fabbrini and Tesche were the best players on the pitch and they dominated the midfield alongside David Davis and kept Charlton on the back foot. On 14 minutes Diego Fabbrini missed the best chance of the half. Donaldson pulled down Michael Morrison’s long ball down the right channel beautifully, laid the ball off to Demarai Gray who fired in a low cross which made its way through to Fabbrini eight yards out. The Italian’s first touch was exquisite but he then slammed it wide with the goal gaping to the utter amazement of everybody watching; I would have bet a lot of money on Fabbrini scoring from where he was. He is a seriously high quality player and like many Blues fans I hope against hope that we can procure his signature on a permanent basis. Blues swarmed all over Charlton and Robert Tesche troubled Henderson on the half hour and it seemed inevitable that Blues would score eventually but half time came and went with the score still 0-0. Darren Randolph did have to make a smart save from Tony Watt’s long range attempt near the end of the first half just to remind Blues if they didn’t already know that the visitors still presented a danger if there was any easing off.
But the second half continued where the first left off with Birmingham on the front foot with Cotterill getting into good positions on a number of occasions only to deliver poor balls which were either easily collected by Henderson, headed away by the Charlton defenders which included ex-Blues man, Roger Johnson or over hit for goal kicks or corners. He was eventually replaced by goal scorer Dyer on 70 minutes. Prior to his replacement, Cotterill blazed two chances over the bar before curling a good effort past Henderson from wide but it flicked off the far post to the groans of the crowd. Will turned to me and said, “This reminds me of Wednesday only in reverse!” He meant of course he could see all these missed chances coming back to haunt us and Charlton did have their moments on the break and Randolph had to make two good but routine saves from Tony Watt and Igor Vetokele.
As I mentioned earlier, Dyer came on for Cotterill, a substitution that needed making but Will who is not a fan of the Watford loanee was chuntering from the moment the winger was introduced. Wes Thomas was also inserted for the tiring Fabbrini on 80 minutes and Will’s mood darkened even more believing that any creativity we had would be finally extinguished. Wes Thomas won the ball in the centre circle, laid it off to Robert Tesche who slid the ball in to Dyer on the left wing. Will said at that moment, “I’m less excited now!” Dyer turned infield and burrowed into the box. The defender backed off presumably worried about diving in but Dyer took advantage and crashed a low drive into the corner of the Tilton Road net to lift the home crowd to its feet including Will! All the people around us turned to him and said that he should slag Dyer off more often! 😀
The result was the right one in the end; Blues wanted the game more than Charlton and the stats of the game suggest that Blues out gunned their opponents in terms of attempts by three to one and only a combination of indifferent finishing and last ditch defending made the margin of victory so slim. Birmingham are now on to 60 points and up to eleventh in the table; a remarkable achievement by Gary Rowett and the players given that we were bottom but one when he took over. If we could acquire Fabbrinni, Tesche and another couple of strategic improvements the prospects for next season could be much brighter.
The Good: A game of golf and football in one day! Beautiful weather, sausages and mustard mash at the Cookhouse, a good game and excellent result.
The Bad: The unnecessary booing of Roger Johnson that broke out during the second half.
The Ugly: Nothing I could think of; we all had a great day.
Birmingham City: Darren Randolph 8, Paul Caddis 7, Jonathan Spector 7, Michael Morrison 7, Jonathan Grounds 7, Robert Tesche 8, Diego Fabbrini 8 (Wes Thomas 80, N/A) David Davis 7, Demarai Gray 7 David Cotterill 5 (Lloyd Dyer 70, 6), Clayton Donaldson 7.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Stephen Gleeson, Paul Robinson, Koby Arthur, Andrew Shinnie.
Goals: Dyer 82 minutes.
Charlton Athletic: Stephen Henderson 8, Chris Solly 6, Roger Johnson 7, Tal Ben Haim 7, Morgan Fox 7, Johann Berg Gudmundsson 7, Yoni Buyens 7, Jordan Cousins 7 (Alou Diarra 88, N/A), Frederic Bulot 6 (Chris Eagles 63, 6); Igor Vetokele 7 (Simon Church 77, 6), Tony Watt 7.
Subs not used: Neil Etheridge, Joseph Gomez, Rhoys Wiggins, Harry Lennon.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson 7: I thought the referee did fine. I cannot think of any incident that changed the game to its detriment secondary to a poor decision and he contributed to the spectacle by keeping the game moving and kept the cards in his pocket. Arguably a little lenient but I think I prefer that to confetti yellow and reds.
Bazza KRO SOTV