There had been a break from matters on the pitch for us with International week but I did get to go to the game at Wembley last Friday meeting up with Chris and a few of the lads from Baginton. 4-0 against a poor Lithuania side was good enough and we all enjoyed the experience but because of UEFA rules which I’d forgotten about, I wasn’t able to get a beer in the ground. Honestly, when a bloke goes to football and can’t get a pint at the game, I reckon it’s a sad show but given the events at the game Russia and Montenegro were involved in it is perhaps understandable. Chris had a lot of fun at my expense telling me repeatedly how much he had enjoyed his pre-match pint at the pub before I arrived and how much he was looking forward to having one on the hired bus on the way back as he had a load of bottles in ice in a large tub at the back! I just had to absorb the banter and suck it up.
Here we are at Easter already and having washed, dressed and breakfasted; it was off on the ten minutes’ walk down to Blackwater station to catch the 09.30 train to Reading. There were engineering works scheduled so the usually straightforward journey from Reading to Coventry was going to be disrupted requiring some bus service between Reading and Didcot Parkway which was a bore but essential work has to be done some time I guess. It was a cool, dank, grey morning with light rain and I suppose it was just as well I was going to football as I wouldn’t have been able to get out in the garden would I? I eventually arrived at Coventry at 12.23 and it was back to Chris’ pub at Baginton to pick up Little Jack and deliver his and his baby brother, Seb’s Easter eggs.
There was much talk about the developments in Hong Kong and the five bids received by Ernst and Young and much speculation as to who they may be. I have confined myself to matters on the pitch and things regarding match days for several reasons. Firstly, I think events have been covered extensively on Often Partisan by Daniel Ivery and I am sure I am not alone in thanking him for his excellent and erudite comment over the last three years or so and like many I watch and read with interest his Podcasts and blog articles. I choose not to comment in the main since for my part I simply don’t know enough fact to do so. Daniel freely admits that much of his comment is speculative but it is at least based on information diligently gathered from contacts both here and in the Far East and I hope and pray that this agony that our famous old club has endured in recent times will finally be at the beginning of the end rather than the end of the beginning. I keep an open mind to events in truth. I don’t know if Carson Yeung is a bad man or not and it is easy to demonise Peter Pannu with the information presented to us by the media but I would contend that none of us know the full story and as the song from HMS Pinafore goes; “Things are seldom what they seem, skimmed milk masquerades as cream.”
Back to matters of great import; football! We have acquired a new player, Fabbrini and I for one was very much looking forward to watching the Watford loanee as I understand he was by far the best player on the pitch when we suffered a very rare reverse against Millwall when he was on loan there briefly. Unfortunately, he didn’t feature but maybe on Monday eh? I couldn’t get to that game but Paul Merson on SKY that night waxed lyrical about him. Now for the down side; Chris picked me up as arranged but said that we would be delayed a little because of some work he had to do at the pub. I will cut a long story short; we didn’t get to St Andrews until half time by which time Blues were 2-0 to the good but the upside was there was pork in a bap with sage and onion stuffing on offer at the Cookhouse to warm the cockles and the second half to look forward to. Sadly the second period wasn’t up to much and the only goal we saw all afternoon was Rotherham’s which was down to rank bad defending that we have seen all too often this season. Connor Sammon threaded a ball through towards Lee Frecklington which wasn’t cleared by our defenders. True the sodden pitch didn’t help and Rotherham did enjoy the run of the ball at that moment. Frecklington’s effort was parried by Randolph into the path of our former loanee, Matt Derbyshire who couldn’t miss from 12 yards. Blues contrived to let Rotherham completely back into the game and when winger, Ben Pringle pulled the ball back across the face of goal to Frecklington just after the latter really should have levelled but instead shot tamely at Randolph having taken a touch to create an excellent opportunity. Chris puffed out his cheeks at this point and exclaimed, “We were lucky there!” Pringle missed narrowly over immediately after and the natives were getting restless. Derbyshire went down in the box when tussling with Kiernan but the referee waved away the Miller’s protests and rightly in my opinion. I had a good view of the incident and it was a 50-50 challenge which certainly didn’t warrant a spot kick.
Blues did have moments to put the game to bed however and Donaldson tested Martinez with a header that the keeper did well to save. He was very much the busier of the two goalkeepers throughout the second period. It should have been 3-1 just after when substitute, Lloyd Dyer demonstrated his rapid pace to get the ball at the by-line and pulled an excellent ball back across the face of goal. The outstretched boot of Donaldson failed to connect however and another glorious chance was lost.
Fortunately, The Millers weren’t good enough to equalise and we weren’t good enough to add to our tally as we should have done on a number of occasions especially at the end when we could have scored twice in as many minutes in time added on; Martinez saved two shots from Tesche when in truth he should have been given no chance with either.
Normally I provide a score assessment of each player at the end of reports but I do not think I saw enough of the game to be totally objective so I will refrain on this occasion. Despite losing out on half the game I am still glad I made the trip. Football is about more than the match itself; it is about spending time with friends and family.
The Good: we have achieved 50 points and can plan for another season of Championship football next year hopefully with better prospects.
The Bad: Only getting to see half the game but sometimes life is just like that!
The Ugly: The weather; isn’t it meant to be spring?
Birmingham City: Darren Randolph, Paul Caddis, Michael Morrison, Rob Kiernan 7, Jonathan Grounds 6, Robert Tesch, Andrew Shinnie (David Davies 82) Demarai Gray (Lloyd Dyer 67) David Cotterill, Clayton Donaldson.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Paul Robinson, Wes Thomas, Diego Fabbrini, Lee Novak.
Goals: Donaldson, Teshe.
Bookings: Shinnie, Grounds.
Rotherham United: Emiliano Martinez, Jack Hunt, Daniel Lafferty, Kirk Broadfoot, Craig Morgan, Lee Frecklington, Lawrie Wilson (Jordan Bowery 52) Richard Smallwood (Jerry Yates 85) Ben Pringle, Matt Derbyshire, Conor Sammon (Conor Newton 63)
Subs not used: Paul Green, Adam Collin, Daniel Rowe, Robert Milsom.
Bookings: Broadfoot, Morgan.
Referee: Dean Whitestone: Judging by the action I saw, I felt Mr Whitestone and his assistants marshalled the game very well in slippery, difficult conditions. I believe he got the big calls right in waving away Rotherham’s penalty claim and only booking Morgan for his scything challenge on Donaldson. Some around me were claiming that he was last man but the incident was too wide out on the left flank and there were three defenders tracking back centrally so Donaldson had he been able to get away would still have had much to contend with. It was therefore not a clear goal scoring opportunity and in my view the referee was correct.
Bazza KRO SOTV