Birmingham City 1-3 Southend United – View From The South

Posted on January 31, 2007 
Filed Under Guest Articles

I got an email today from a regular commenter on the blog. His name is Bazza and he wanted to have his say on last night’s performance. So here it is.

I finished work a little earlier than expected and decided that I had just enough time to get home, get changed and drive the 125 miles to St Andrews for the game. My 17 year old son pleaded with me to take him, convinced he was sufficiently recovered from glandular fever to attend. He has been much better over the last two days so I relented. My 15 year old had homework to do and his entreaties cut no ice but I promised that he could come to Colchester on Saturday.

So we set off just before 5.30 pm and managed to negotiate the M25 – M40 relatively unscathed. We arrived at St Andrews about 5 minutes before kick off and then had the frustration of delay as we had to purchase tickets which took forever considering there were only a handful of people waiting to pay cash! We heard the roar that greeted our opener from the Kop ticket office and were told Cameron Jerome had scored but now it seems it was an own goal.

We got to our seats just after but happy to be 1-0 up. Blues were playing some quick incisive stuff at this stage and we settled in for a similar demolition to the game at their place. Larsson hit the post with a fabulous free kick and was very unlucky not to score. The first of the refereeing howlers then occurred. Gary McSheffrey was clearly pulled back as he tried to bury the rebound but this clear shout for a penalty was ignored. Nevermind, we were on top and it was a matter of time.

Totally in control a sloppy back pass was hammered into Mat Sadler by Maik Taylor and the ball rebounded towards goal. Ryce-Campbell and Taylor chased it wide of the goal and the winger then blatantly handles it to bring it under control before stroking it back to a colleague to score easily from 10 yards. How the linesman and the referee missed it is breathtaking. The ineptness of some of the officials is extraordinary. If nearly 20,000 people can see it why can’t they? 1-1.

It is at this point that the wheels started to come off. This is where the role of the Captain is important. Where was Damien Johnson when the troops needed to rally? An indignant aggressive response to such an injustice was to be expected by the incensed crowd but what was the reality? We stopped playing the ball around neatly and started banging it down the channels for the ever willing Jerome to chase. We look at our most ineffective when we do this and the belief given to the opposition by their gift from the officials was enhanced. The frustration started to transfer itself to the assembled Bluenoses as the half progressed but the half time whistle relieved the tension.

For a good deal of the half especially early on the team had played OK and had been robbed by the incompetent officials and our own nervous going to pieces when the unjust equaliser was allowed. However, there can be no excuses for what then followed. Why it is that Birmingham City teams for as long as I can remember can contrive to make poor sides look good is beyond me. Southend are where they are in the Championship because they are not very good as we aptly showed just before Christmas. The same team were knocking it around and running circles around our midfield and constantly getting behind our full backs. Freddie Eastwood is given all the time in the world to pick his spot and shoot from the edge of our box from one such move barely two minutes in and before the tea is cool enough to drink.

OK a shock; we’ve been here before, now for the reaction. Give it five minutes and change it if we continue to struggle. No, it’s at least 15 minutes before the ineffective Nafti is replaced by Clemence and DJ Campbell is finally brought on after noisy chants of his name by the crowd with 15 minutes left in a desperate attempt to put three up front replacing Larsson. There is no doubt that these changes made a difference and there was a flurry of urgency that had been completely missing for the previous 40 minutes. Their keeper made a couple of smart saves but it became disjointed and frenetic as full time approached. Then with six minutes left it’s time to go to sleep at a corner and allow a short one to be taken for the all too easy pick a spot and curl into top corner routine.

Overall an awful performance after their equaliser aided and abetted by the officials who were even worse than we were. It was nowhere near as bad as when we played Norwich City but several things struck me; Jonty has to rouse the team out of its soporific slumber against teams like this and remind a few of them that hard work is still required even if it is the bottom club in the league. The complacency on show was unacceptable. His captaincy in this situation was dismal.

Maik Taylor’s kicking was dreadful all night and he has to take some of the responsibility for this debacle with his part in the first goal as does Sadler who was beaten far too easily by a competent but ordinary winger. Tiny was the only one of the back four to emerge with any credit from what was a shambles of an evening as at least he stuck to his task and put his foot in at vital moments. Upson, as an England international, could have done much more to marshal the back line and was ordinary at best.

The midfield all went to pieces after they scored and Jonty and Nafti went AWOL for long periods. McSheffrey did his best to get things going as did Larsson until he was taken off. Jerome worked hard as usual but the service he received was not up to the usual standards and his contribution was thereby limited. The biggest disappointment of the night for me was Rowan Vine who looked nothing like the player that played so well against us in late December. I hope the St Andrews curse has not blighted him too early!

On the long drive home I remarked to my son that our team will break your heart as they have repeatedly broken mine over the last 45 years. There was an inevitability about last nights result as I can point to several instances when we have been on the brink of success only to take a fall against a relegation threatened minnow and this undoubtedly explains why we have never won anything in 132 years. Getting things in perspective, there is no real crisis as the result of last night but we have once again made heavy weather of what should have been a straightforward task. We must learn to beat teams like Leeds United, Luton Town and Southend United if we are to have any pretensions of rejoining the elite as champions of our division.

Despite picking up the pieces of my broken, tired and weary heart, I will be there at Colchester United with my two lads on Saturday though I can’t understand why, other than we are all sticks of Birmingham City rock!

Comments

6 Responses to “Birmingham City 1-3 Southend United – View From The South”

  1. Hiro Protagonist on January 31st, 2007 5:27 pm

    I was at the game last night – Damien Johnson was absolutely awful. He is not a skillful player by anyone’s standards but he makes up for this with his workrate. However, he did not work or run at all last night – and consequently looked as if he would struggle to get into a Conference team.

    He was poor in midfield with passes going woefully wide of the mark to Southend players…he was seen to be playing most of the game, hand on hips, watching everything pass him by. His marking was atrocious and this led to the 2nd and 3rd goal.

    If we had played with 10 men (ie: no Jonty) we would have faired better. i used to suport him…but he was lacking against Reading and he let the team, Bruce and the fans down last night. I was very surprised that Bruce didn’t sling him off..favoured player or not when he brought on Muamba and Clemo. Martin taylor played pretty well though….some good passes. Nobody else shined really. Nafti was awful – trying to do too much, too slick…ultimately losing the ball. Keep it simple for gods sake.

  2. martin blue blood liveley on January 31st, 2007 5:57 pm

    i was at the game last night as i won a competition in the birmingham evening mail, we had a three course meal and a tour of the ground and also met “steve brucie baby”, he is one of the most nicest blokes iv’e ever had the privilage of meeting,it was a fantastic evening, then they started to play football what a load of dogs mess mehdi nafti looked a right yoghurt trying to twist up freddy eastwood and some other players too, but he just couldn’t hold onto the ball last night, regarding d.johnson i thought he played ok,some of the players looked as though they just wanted to let gary mcsheffery do most of the work, i will say though,that rowan vine had a good debut and i got to meet him and david gold after the match in the directors suite, even though it was a bad result i had one of the best nights of my life, and like to thank t.mobile and lisa smith of the evening mail and everyone at birmingham city for a great night.

    martin blue blood liveley.

  3. James - A Southend View on January 31st, 2007 10:25 pm

    What I would like to know is why teams like you have such atitude problems. Bar the first twenty minutes, we played you off the park. You need to stop believeing that you have some sort of divine right to beat some teams in this division. You were in the Prem for a while, yes, but you’re in this division on merit.

    You were woeful last night, granted – but how about, rather than using that as your only excuse, you acknowledge that ‘little old Southend’ are on the way up and that it’s finally starting to come together for us? We didn’t beat you, West Brom and Cardiff (three ‘big’ clubs) in the last four games for no reason. Stop being so biased and see it the way it was. Sky Sports said we were fantastic and that you had ‘no answer’ for us. Glad that the neutrals can at least see the game for what it really was. It turned the form book on its head, but we outplayed you – fact. We passed it excellently, we were quick, and we got dangerous balls into the box. You think you missed opportunities to score? I counted 4 golden opportunities that we missed, so you’re lucky we didn’t scpre more. Stop being such snobby, big nosed Charlies and have the pride and balls to admit it!

    To the idiot that said we’re down there for a reason…ok, we were awful first part of the season, but we’re pulling it together now. You whacked us 4-0 because we were off the back of 120 minutes of hard-working, energy-sapping football against Spure in the Carling Cup the previous Wednesday. We’d have given you much more of a game if we hadn’t played Spurs, especially as we do better at home. Since the Man Utd. game, we have played fantastic football and should have won a lot more games that we did. Luck’s against you when you’re at the bottom. It’s Sod’s Law.

    Oh, and about the ‘handball’ – rubbish. How you all failed to see 6 foot something or other Maik Taylor violently and desperately shove little 5 foot 4 Jamal Campbell-Ryce in the back when they were both chasing for that ball, I will never know. The ball inadvertanly hit his hand because your goalkeeper was beaten for pace and could only try to sneakily push Jamal off course – well, he pushed him into the ball and the ball accidentally hit his hand, but of course you wouldn’t see that would you? Funny that, as I saw it clearly from the other end of the pitch. I’d praise him for staying on his feet, ’cause if he’d decided to go down, we’d have had a great shout for a penalty. In fact, if I was ref, I’d have looked to give us a penalty for the shove, not a free kick for the handball.

  4. Hiro Protagonist on January 31st, 2007 10:47 pm

    James..Southend fan:where is the attitude? we are moaning about our players playing badly. we did play you off the park for the first 20 minutes and then you dominated. No one is arguing that point. Should we use this Blues fans website to ‘big up’ Southend? No. Did Southend fans flood your own websites with praiase for Blues when we beat you at your place? I thought not. They probably moaned about how bad your team rolled over. Let us wallow in self-pity for gods sake.

  5. Dave C on February 1st, 2007 7:34 am

    Southend were the best team on the park (there you go James !!) because we didn’t play to the best of our ability and they played well…not brilliantly, just competently.

    Big test for Bruce now – rally the troops for tricky matches and make the 2 games in hand pay…..or will he use Upsons departure as his excuse for failure……mmmmmmm ???

  6. Bazzathebluenose on February 1st, 2007 6:53 pm

    It’s probably too late for James from Southend to see this but first of all I was delighted to see a Southend fan contribute to the debate that I started in the best traditions of Joys and Sorrows by stating an opinion and inviting others to air their views. Southend undoubtedly deserved their victory and I like most fair minded Blues fans would not disagree. However, I take exception to a number of comments made by my fellow supporter:

    1. Birmingham are in the Championship rather than the Premier League on merit but I stand by my contention that Southend are where they are for the same reason. I have attended most of Birmingham’s games home and away this season and have viewed nearly all the division’s sides first hand. I was at Roots Hall and Southend have to be the poorest team I have seen so far and it is on that basis and their record this season that I based my opinion which I still hold. Certainly the Shrimpers were much better than a few weeks ago and there appears to be a bit of form appearing but whether they can keep it going remains to be seen. I still think Southend are odds on for relegation but I wont be jumping off any cliffs if I’m wrong.

    2. I like to think that I consider carefully what I am going to say especially if I’m going to burst into print. I therefore do not consider myself an idiot. I was considerably closer to the hand ball incident than our friend from Southend and Maik Taylor tried to get to the ball but was beaten to it by Campbell-Ryce. However, the latter handled the ball to control it before supplying the pass for the scorer. Campbell-Ryce handled the ball – fact! A goal was scored directly as the result of this illegal action – fact! The linesman wasn’t paying attention or he surely must have seen it – fact! I am astonished the referee didn’t – fact!

    3. James from Southend has to accept that given the relative form over the season of the two teams and the result of five weeks ago it was not unreasonable for Birmingham fans to expect a victory against the bottom of the table team. What makes football the game it is is the inconsistency of results and it is the shock results that give every fan in the country when faced with adversity and a seemingly tall order hope. So bravo Southend enjoy your win because you deserved it.

    4. The Carling Cup tie against Spurs as an excuse for the inept performance against Blues at Roots Hall is pathetic. These are professional athletes who train every day for hours. All teams have to play in midweek and again on Saturday. It is part of what professionals do and to say they were ill prepared because of a fixture a few days before just adds to my view that Southend are where they are on merit. If you can’t cope get out of the Cup early.

    Finally I am sincere in welcoming fans from other clubs onto this blog especially if it is in response to something I have taken the time to write but insults towards me just because I hold a view different from yours James are uncalled for. I would not come on one of your team’s sites and call you an idiot and I would ask for more respect next time you visit us. Congratulations once again on your victory.

    KRO SOTV

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