The Autumn equinox has come and gone and the nights will now start drawing in. I think this has to be my favourite time of the year. There is something about the crisp autumn air, the subtle smell, the unique quality of the light and the blue of the sky that somehow differs from that in summer. Saturday awoke with such a sky and ambient temperature making the walk down to Blackwater station that much more pleasurable. I called Chris to tell him that I would be on the usual train to get me to Coventry by just before 12.30.
It had been an eventful week for Blues with that game on Tuesday night against the mob from across the expressway. Overall, I was pleased with the performance by us and though the result didn’t go our way courtesy of a good, well worked goal by Gestede and Jacques Maghoma’s glorious, but missed chance in the second half. Talking to Will and one or two other mates after the game I got the impression that we were all of one accord with regard to the outcome; we no longer had to contend with a cup match that we simply don’t need, we can concentrate on the important matter in hand namely the league and we came out of the match with credit. Vile have far more to worry about in my opinion; Gary Rowett said something very telling before the game when he pointed out that our opponents had spent £55 million in construction of their team whereas ours had cost £500K, a packet of crisps and a bag of balls! The neutrals watching would have been hard pressed to tell the difference though, especially first half. Nevertheless, I still hate losing to Villa under any circumstances and so it is that they have the bragging rights for a while but it was hardly convincing and a somewhat Pyrrhic victory in the end. On the evidence of Tuesday night, it will be another long, miserable, desolate winter for them and their fans; I’m going to have to stop now; I’m filling up! 😀
We got away from Baginton later than usual which meant we missed out on a drink at the George and in any event, I wanted to go to the shop to get this season’s home strip that was at last in stock and I joined Chris and little Jack in the ground. After as little as three minutes Chris turned to me and said “I have a bad feeling about this!” He was right. There was no tempo; no energy, no accuracy and no coherent game plan as all we seemed able to do was hoof the ball up to a willing but outnumbered Clayton Donaldson up front. The subsequent high balls were dealt with easily by the muscular and robust Rotherham defenders and the visitors belied their lowly status in the fledgling table by playing pretty decent stuff with speed and precision making us look the ordinary team we are. They forced at least three decent saves out of Kuczcak whereas we produced very little of noteworthy value.
Rotherham deservedly took the lead through who else but Matt Derbyshire (remember him? Absolutely useless when he played for us!) but frankly he was given all the time in the world to bring the ball down from a simple diagonal pass from Joe Newell, shape and shoot with Morrison and Grounds nowhere near him. A truly abysmal piece of defending which got what it deserved and apart from Caddis and Kuczcak, the only two players whom I felt came out of this encounter for Blues with any credit, the performance from Birmingham City was tired, lacklustre, slow, sloppy and inept; apart from that Blues were fantastic!
It is true that we were much better in the second half but that wasn’t exactly difficult. The truth is that although we apparently had 17 attempts at goal all afternoon, similar to the 18 Rotherham created but there was only one of ours on target; a header in the second half from a corner that was cleared off the line as I recall but their goalkeeper, Lee Camp didn’t have a single save to make all match unlike Kuszczak who was busy. The game was far more even after the break but once Gleeson turned into trouble on the edge of his own box instead of clearing his lines gifting Rotherham a second from Tony Andreu that in truth didn’t look like materialising otherwise, it was game over. He robbed Gleeson burrowed into the area and fired his shot across Kuszczak off the post for 2-0. The Millers’ fans behind the goal couldn’t believe their luck. I was waiting for them to start singing Christmas Carols!
We never at any stage looked like scoring and the odd half chance we did create we failed to capitalise on. Rotherham ran out deserved winners and it is back to the drawing board for Blues. You can dress this up any which way you like but we simply have to beat teams like this at home. Playing anywhere near our full potential and we would do so. Yes, seven games in 21 days are tough but there can be no excuse for this performance; it was very poor. It has to be better at difficult venues like Brentford and Leeds next week otherwise the good start we made to the season will have counted for nought.
The Good: Beautiful day, the beef casserole from the Cookhouse and the company of Chris and little Jack.
The Bad: Our passing, lack of creativity, poor defending for both goals.
The Ugly: Watching the rugby when I got back! Stuart Lancaster’s and Chris Robshaw’s job prospects when we fail to defeat Australia next week!
Birmingham City: Tomas Kuszczak 7, Paul Caddis 8, Michael Morrison 5, Jonathan Spector 6, Jonathan Grounds 5, David Cotterill 5 (Nicolai Brock Madsen 73, 5) Mikael Kieftenbeld 6 (Andrew Shinnie 61, 6) Jon Toral 5 (Jacques Maghoma 62, 6) Stephen Gleeson 5, Demarai Gray 6, Clayton Donaldson 5.
Subs not used: Adam Legzdins, Paul Robinson, Viv Soloman-Otabor, David Davies.
Goals: none – third game running; worrying!
Rotherham: Lee Camp 6, Lewis Buxton 6, Joe Mattock 7, Danny Collins 7, Farrend Rawson 6, Joe Newell 7, Richard Smallwood 6, Tony Andreu 7, (Grant Ward 81, N/A) Vadis Odjidja-Ofue 7, Jonson Clarke-Harris 6 (Danny Ward 72, 7) Matt Derbyshire 7 (Chris Maguire 89, N/A)
Subs not used: Adam Collin, Kirk Broadfoot, Emanuel Ledesma, Greg Halford.
Goals: Derbyshire, Andreu
Bookings: None! (Heaven only knows how!)
Referee: Andy Woolmer 4; A truly awful referee in this game; it is one thing being clear and decisive as shown by flamboyant signals for free kicks, corners, throw ins etc but it helps if the said decisions are correct; many were not. How most of the visitors’ defenders escaped yellow card sanction is beyond me. In fairness to Blues there was an incident in the first half when Donaldson was about to shoot from only twelve yards when he was clearly tripped. It was a clear penalty neither official registered the correct call. I suspect that this was the sort of game that had Blues scored, albeit against the run of play they would probably have gone on and won; this was therefore a major moment in the game.
Attendance: 17,307 (838 away fans – made enough noise for double that; excellent support!)