Well so far Easter weekend had been dank and wet with Good Friday being a total washout and Saturday not looking much better on early rising. Will called early to say that there had been a slight change of plan and we were to meet at Guildford at about 12 noon instead of 11.00 because his wife was not due back with their daughter from a trip until a little later than planned. This left us with little margin for error and we decided to meet Chris and little Jack at the ground as we would have no time to go via Baginton. Little Will had had a tummy bug all day yesterday and spent the whole time being sick so no Easter eggs for him and he was deemed unfit for travel so one less in the car. My two lads, Jonny and Ben, were home for the holiday weekend and so it was that they were kicked out of their scratchers and into the shower, hosed off and fed by Mrs Bazza who of course clucked round them as mothers do. Having consumed their scrambled eggs on toast, cleaned their teeth, brushed their hair and trundled them into the car we set off for Guildford to meet up with Will.
Once again it seems we had reached the point of the must win game. Whilst many results hadn’t gone badly for us yesterday, who would have believed that Sunderland would win 4-1 at Derby the way they had been playing? I suspect that it may still be too late for them but they have given themselves a slim chance of surviving but the thing that worries me is that Barnsley look to be the only team in close proximity to us that occupy a place of safety and teams like Reading and Sheffield Wednesday got valuable points yesterday and look to be edging to safety. It looks to be three from four at the moment so a win against Ipswich was vital. We play Bolton away on Tuesday of course, the scene of our miracle escape two years ago with 4,812 bluenoses attending. Bolton are another team still in trouble but they look safer than us at this juncture. That game is at the very least a ‘not lose’ and that assumes three points today. Mrs Bazza came into the living room just before we left and said that there was a good omen for the game later. She said; “I’ve just turned on the radio and guess what they’re playing?” She went on; “Mr Blue Sky, Jeff Lynne!” Whilst my wife does not possess the football gene, there would appear to be a glimmer of a chromosome in there somewhere!
The traffic was slow all the way from the Guildford turn to the M40 on the car park that is the M25. Why half the population of the south-east of England choose to populate it on a holiday weekend is beyond me but there it is. It was 10-15 mph for nearly twenty miles before we got a clear run and were able to make up time. We reached St Andrews at about 14.20 which was pretty good going all things considered and met up with Chris and little Jack. The food at the Cookhouse this week was braised steak with diced potatoes and on a chilly day it was welcome accompanied by a pint of John Smith’s.
The game was not one that will linger long in the memory. A tough highly physical Ipswich side hewn in the style of Mick McCarthy were determined to make life as difficult as possible for Blues forced into a single change from the team that beat Hull City last time out. Craig Gardner’s hamstring injury meant that David Davis came into the centre of midfield. Blues had the best of the early play and certainly looked the greater threat. Jacques Maghoma caught the eye in the early exchanges and it was he that provided the breakthrough by forging powerfully forward past several opponents until he was barged aside by Cameron Carter-Vickers. I have to say that the challenge looked shoulder to shoulder to me and the sort of thing one sees every week but referee, Mr East had no hesitation pointing to the spot. The only thing I can say is that the man in the middle must have thought that the defender was not in playing distance of the ball. That being the case the challenge is a foul, shoulder to shoulder or not; you are not allowed to just barge into an opponent if you cannot realistically gain the ball. It was fortuitous, some would say dodgy but it was nice to get a bit of a break for once. All that was required was for Jota to convert the chance which he dutifully did; left footed into the keeper’s bottom left hand corner. 1-0 with 21 minutes on the clock. Overall the lead was deserved and Ipswich had their keeper, Bialkowski to thank for a miraculous save with his feet just before the half hour when a right footed shot from Che Adams was deflected horribly and looked to be past the custodian until he shot out his right foot to clear off the line whilst tumbling the opposite way. Another goal then would have sealed the game since Ipswich showed little ambition or the guile to score themselves in truth.
The second half was scrappy with a lot of long balls and direct play which saw the visitors have the best of it although Blues did still offer a threat on the break and with a little more care with the final through ball could easily have added to their lead. Ipswich certainly exerted pressure and the plan was clearly to get it out wide quickly and sling it in. Blues did struggle at times with crosses into the box and there were one or two heart in mouth moments when Stockdale either didn’t collect cleanly or failed to clear sufficiently. However, aided and abetted by some rugged no nonsense defending and at times hoofed clearances, the clean sheet was kept intact. Through the four minutes of time added Ipswich threw caution to the wind when in a final nervy thirty seconds, they deployed every one of their players including their keeper for their final corner kick. Substitute, Cheick N’Doye headed robustly away to the loud roar of the St Andrews faithful and when the visitors tried to rework the ball out on the right flank with the penalty area packed, man of the match Jota blocked the cross and the ball ricocheted back off the attacker and out for a goal kick; with that, Mr East’s final blast of his whistle ended proceedings and three points were ours. A bit squeakier than I would have liked but it’s out of the bottom three and on to Bolton on Tuesday; come on you blue boys!!!!!!!!
The Good: The result obviously.
The Bad: The referee; shocking for both sides especially second half.
The Ugly: The game; it wasn’t very good but who cares?
Birmingham City: David Stockdale 6, Wes Harding 7, Maxime Colin 7, Michael Morrison 6, Harlee Dean 7, David Davis 6, Mikael Kieftenbeld 7 (Cheikh N’Doye 80, N/A) Jota 7, Che Adams 6, Jacques Maghoma 7 (Jason Lowe 90, N/A) Lukas Jutkiewicz 6 (Josh Dacres-Cogley 86, N/A)
Subs not used: Tomas Kuszczak, Jeremie Boga, Marc Roberts, Odin Bailey.