Baz is back with a full 90 minute review this week!
First of all I hope all in the Bluenose nation had a good and happy Easter. I actually went on Monday to Bournemouth where the weather was absolutely glorious and very warm for the time of the year. I went with my eldest boy Jonny, home for the holiday weekend and we saw a cracking game, on a beautiful playing surface against a Cherries team that are easy on the eye, full of movement and slick passing and deservedly at the top of the Championship. That said, Blues first half performance was the best counterattacking and incisive display I have seen from us all season. For 35 minutes we were the better side and were 2-0 ahead with excellent strikes from Clayton Donaldson and David Cotterill and believe me Bournemouth were lucky to not be four down as they scrambled a goal bound header off the line from Grounds and Donaldson should have scored a second from arguably the best chance of the half. Sadly, our old demons of dreadful defending from a set piece and lack of concentration right at the end of the half meant that Bournemouth went into the break with parity and from then on there was no way back; a penalty early after the break and a scuffed shot in off the bar at the third time of asking saw the league leaders run out comfortable 4-2 winners and we lost Robbo to a red card to boot. Make no mistake, we were beaten by the better side in the end but the game did show just what our team is capable of. With strategic strengthening over the summer, there must surely be room for optimism for next year.
Anyway, back to the present; I left Blackwater at 10.30 in pouring rain. When I got to Reading it was bright sunshine. Changing onto the Manchester train I was in Coventry at the usual time of 12.23 there being no engineering works to contend with this time and met up with Chris. Back to the Oak at Baginton to pick up little Jack and then onto St Andrews via the Royal George. There was a hot gammon and mustard bap on the menu at the Cookhouse which washed down with a nice pint all was well with the world. On the subject of food, there were apparently no sausages available for the away fans and they let us all know with a humourous chant during the game.
So it was in form Wolves visiting St Andrews. It seems ages ago since we achieved what I felt was a highly creditable 0-0 draw at dingle dell barely a week after the 0-8 humiliation at the hands of Bournemouth since Wolves were riding high then as I recall. It was going to be a tough one and despite the fact that there is little to play for it is nevertheless important to not fade away with a run of poor form at the end of seasons regardless of your position since we’ve all seen teams get off to a bad start in August carrying on where they left off.
Blues set up in the now familiar 4-2-3-1 formation with Kiernan alongside Morrison in central defence, Gleeson and Robert Tesche in front of the back four, Cotterill, Fabbrinni and Gray making up the rest of midfield with Donaldson up front. Over the whole piece, Blues were the better side and deserved the eventual 2-1 victory. After an even first period, the game was settled by a spark of class from Demarai Gray who picking the ball up on the edge of his own area ran 90 yards nicking the ball off Scott Goldbourne who really should have done better tracking the young winger to deposit the ball past Ikeme with a composure way beyond the teenager’s years.
However, this was a more complete performance than that moment, sublime though it was. In the first period, Blues had to my mind just managed to settle down after the early exchanges and looked to be gaining control when just on 20 minutes Bakary Sako, Wolves best player in my view on the day got the run of the ball in a tackle on Grounds thirty yards out. I looked at the footage last night and Iím bound to say that it was a good job for Sako that his lunge took the ball cleanly since it would have been a different story had he not done so. There was a moment when he was off the ground and therefore not in control but as it was he won the ball and it ran favourably for him and not for Grounds who was now helplessly wrong side. Sako burrowed into the area and squared for Bnik Afobe to net from eight yards much to the raucous delight of the lot behind the opposite goal. They werenít sounding quite so chipper four minutes later though when Blues equalised from a Cotterill corner. Grounds headed down and the ball was clearly over the line. However, the officials missed it and Wolves in their attempts to clear struck the incoming Rob Kiernon and the ball ricocheted back into the net and justice was done.
After that I felt Blues were the better side and maintained control with excellent pressing, forcing mistakes and then having got it the use of the ball was the best Iíve seen from us in a long while. Diego Fabbrinni looked a classy act with elegance and poise when in possession especially in tight situations. His distribution was very good and he worked well with Gleeson and Tesche to get Blues as a unit moving up the field. Demarai Gray had his best game for weeks and became more confident as the game wore on. A special mention has to go to Clayton Donaldson who for most of the season has ploughed a lone furrow up front and yesterday was yet another example to young players watching as to how to lead the line, hold the ball up and bring others into play. It is a hard, thankless and unselfish job and the fact that he has bagged 15 goals doing this in a team which is pretty average at best is remarkable. OK, he misses chances and could conceivably have 25 goals but you have to get in the right places to miss them and if a striker carries on doing the right things he will score his fair share.
The Good: A great day and what can be better than getting one over on the old gold and black? Sorry, I was forgetting myself beating the Vile; priceless!!!!!! The company of Chris and little Jack and the gammon bap with French mustard.
The Bad: The run of the ball for Wolves’ goal; that’s football I guess. Good finish though.
The Ugly: The lot behind the goal at the Gil Merrick end! 😀
Birmingham City: Darren Randolph 7, Paul Caddis 7, Rob Kiernan 7 (Jonathan Spector 73,7) Jonathan Grounds 7, Robert Tesche 8, Diego Fabrinni 8 (David Davis 87, N/A) Demarai Gray 7 (Lloyd Dyer 89, N/A) David Cotterill 6, Clayton Donaldson 9.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Callum Reilly, Wes Thomas, Mitch Hancox, Lee Novak.
Goals: Kiernon 25 minutes, Gray 61 minutes.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Carl Ikeme 7, Scott Goldbourne 5, Richard Stearman 7, Danny Batth 6, James Henry 7 (Rajiv van La Parra, 73, 6) Kevin McDonald 5, Benik Afobe 7, Jack Price 6, Dominic Iorfa 7, Bakary Sako 8, Noufa Dicko 6.
Subs not used: David Edwards, Kevin Doyle, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Thomasz Kuszczak Kortney Hause, Michael Jacobs.
Goals: Afobe 21 minutes
Bookings: Batth, Henry, McDonald.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton 6: Overall, the referee was OK but he was let down at times by his assistant on the family stand side. He missed the fact that the ball was over the line before Kiernon finally put the ball in the net; a mistake that could have been costly as I understand that goal line technology is presently only available for the Premier League. He missed the ball being clearly out when hooked back by Sako which very nearly resulted in an equaliser for Wolves and he missed an obvious offside decision in the second half that once again could have influenced the game. The referee deserves a better score than for the combined unit.
Bazza KRO SOTV