Before anyone points it out, yes I know this is late. J&S has been offline due to host issues, I will explain in a blog. Anyway Baz faithfully write his reports and I wanted to make sure they aren’t wasted.
Well we’re beginning to get into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and Saturday dawned to a bright sunny countenance with a nevertheless chilly edge. I hadn’t managed to get to a game for a while but had been able to follow the Blues on the box at Sheffield United and against the Baggies where we were rewarded with a point for each match when the total by rights should have been six as freely admitted by both the respective managers of the aforementioned clubs. We have put in some pleasing performances but unfortunately the old chestnut of failure to score enough goals has continued to haunt us. The last report I wrote was regarding the QPR game and honestly, the less said about that the better; so dreadful was it to behold! I was hoping for better entertainment today. Will was originally going to pick me up at Guildford but had commitments early doors taking little Will to his football match. By the time he could get away from his home in Sussex it was going to be after 12.00 and I had visions of delays on the car park called the M25 and us getting hopelessly delayed. I suggested Will go direct which would save him at least half an hour and so it was I got my usual train from Blackwater to Reading and from there to meet Chris at Coventry. It would mean time for a pint or two at Baginton and a catch up on all the news from Chris who for a multitude of reasons I hadn’t managed to meet up with so far this season.
I arrived on time at Coventry about 12.25 and we went back to the pub for a pint. I have to confess that I hadn’t seen the result at Leeds last Saturday coming and watched with amazement as the scores came through. Leeds are undoubtedly the best team I’ve seen in the Championship so far this term so it was a fantastic result for us. I did try and access a stream but one of the links kept defaulting to a rather unpleasant looking porn site and the other claimed free streaming but then requested credit card details; hmmmm, I don’t think so and so sadly I gave up and followed Jeff Stelling and soccer special instead. It was a bit squeaky when Leeds pulled a goal back to 1-2 and then to have EIGHT minutes of time added on but this time, unlike the slip up at Nottingham Forest, we held on and the first elusive win was ours at last! Combined with the Vile losing at home to Sheffield Wednesday it was the perfect day and my Saturday evening pint tasted all the sweeter for it. However, on to the present and the game today against a struggling Ipswich Town; it is clearly important after such a marquee win that it is followed up with taking care of business against a struggling team, something Blues have not done well in the past but I felt going into this game that provided we took them seriously, avoided any complacency and played like we have done for the majority of the season so far that this match was eminently winnable. Now we are at the heady heights of 17th, I was hoping that by five o’clock we would have climbed a little higher. However, I’ve been watching Blues long enough now to know not to count chickens.
So it proved! In all the years since 1963 that I have been supporting Blues, our inability to beat teams languishing in the lower reaches of any league we happen to be in never changes. Blues contrived to hit the woodwork twice, have two or three cleared off the line when I truth we should have scored and then to compound the problems we have by gift wrapping a two goal lead to the opposition from rank bad defending in the first half. I have to confess that at half time I thought we would be managed out of the match by Ipswich and it would be one of those days. In reality, we not only got back on level terms but should have won the game when in the 93rd minute, Che Adams smashed the ‘winner’ straight at the keeper from close in and the chance was gone; another two points dropped.
Blues started on the front foot and could so easily have gone ahead in the first four minutes of the game. Blues won a corner on the right which was delivered to the far post where it was headed back towards the centre of the goal. A scrambled melee occurred with shots from Morrison and then Che Adams blocked by desperate defending. The ball alighted at the feet of Gary Gardner whose curling right footed shot cannoned off the post with Dean Gerken beaten. We have apparently struck the woodwork more times than any other team in all four divisions and this was yet another to add to the collection. Ipswich had got away with it and I truly believe that had we scored then that the visitors would have been in for a very long afternoon. As it was Ipswich went close themselves with a free kick from just outside the box which Gwion Edwards whistled just past Camp’s left top corner.
Blues remained the more likely team to score until the 26th minute when the Tractor Boys scored from a breakaway against the run of play. The ball broke out the the left flank fairly deep in Ipswich’s half which for reasons only known to himself, Jacques Maghoma allowed to trickle into touch instead of collecting. There was no opponent near him and his only near company was Kristian Pedersen who could easily have provided an overlap run if necessary. As it was, Pedersen took the throw in which Maghoma failed to gather and the ball was retrieved by an Ipswich defender who clipped an excellent ball down the channel to Kayden Jackson. I immediately said to little Jack sitting next to me that we were in trouble. Maghoma had failed to track the runner from deep leaving Pedersen to attempt to run back alone and Jackson had the easy task of rolling the cut back into the path of Jon Nolan who made no mistake sweeping his right foot shot past Camp into his top right hand corner. It was a sloppy gift of a goal resulting from players failing to do the basics.
Blues actually responded pretty well and although rattled by the setback regained some control and composure as they attempted to regain parity. Just after the half hour, Gary Gardner was involved in a nasty clash of heads which resulted in a three minutes delay. This seemed to disrupt the flow of the game and Blues started to become one dimensional and predictable in trying to force forward momentum via balls played up to Jutkiewicz. On 41 minutes, Ipswich gained one of their few corners which frankly just wasn’t defended well at all. Grant Ward took the kick on our right and the near post man failed to get anything on it allowing the ball to find its way to Matthew Pennington unmarked in the middle of the six yard box; 0-2 down in a game we had largely controlled due to real bad defending of the sort we had all hoped was a thing of the past; not so it seems!
During the half time break, I just couldn’t see how we were going to get back into the game. I felt that Ipswich, limited though they are would manage the game, keep us at arms length, defend resolutely and leave St Andrews with all three points. Kieftenbeld replaced the groggy Gary Gardner and the second period got underway. Fortunately, within a couple of minutes of the restart Jota fed a glorious ball between the centre halves to Lukas Jutkiewicz whose touch was assured on the edge of the box as he proceeded to side foot past the advancing Dean Gerken to lift the home faithful. After that it was game on with the Ipswich rearguard under mounting pressure having to concede free kicks and corners with some desperate and sometimes agricultural tackling, one of which resulted in Matthew Pennington, the scorer of the visitors’ second goal appearing in Mr Brook’s notebook. Charlie Lakin who was making his home debut, was replaced by Connor Mahoney who made an immediate impact heading a pass to Che Adams whose fierce drive from the edge of the area was arrowing towards the far corner before Gerken pushed the shot wide of his right hand post for a corner from which Lukas Jutkiewicz headed against the bar (another one! When is our luck going to change?)
Blues continued to pile on the pressure and from another of a series of free kicks another Jutkiewicz header was blocked followed by one by Harlee Dean until finally Jutkiewicz finished with a right foot shot from close range into the roof of the net to send St Andrews into raptures; it was no more than Blues deserved. Sixty-eight minutes on the clock, the crowd up and smelling blood; now for the win. The fact that the winning goal would not come was not through want of trying. Pennington committed a similar foul on Maghoma to the one earlier and received his marching orders two minutes from time. Chances came and went, Ipswich defended resolutely and rode their luck especially on 93 minutes when Che Adams chested down and smashed a shot straight into man of the match, Dean Gerken’s chest from point blank range. Could Adams have done better? Possibly but we’ll never know since moments later and it was all over; 2-2 and another draw at home, another two points dropped or perhaps one gained considering the gift of a two goal lead to the visitors.
The Good: The come back in the second half.
The Bad: The missed chances and simply awful defending for Ipswich’s goals.
The Ugly: The two challenges that resulted in Matthew Pennington’s sending off; he can have no complaints about his dismissal.
Birmingham City: Lee Camp 6, Maxime Colin 6, Michael Morrison 6, Harlee Dean 6, Kristian Pedersen 6, Gary Gardner 5 (Mikael Kieftenbeld 45,7) Jota 7, Charlie Lakin 6 (Conor Mahoney 64, 7) Jacques Maghoma 6, Lukas Jutkiewicz 8, Che Adams 7.
Subs not used: Connal Trueman, Wes Harding, Marc Roberts, Viv Soloman-Otabor, Omar Bogle.
Goals: Jutkiewicz 48, 68.
Yellow cards: None
Ipswich Town: Dean Gerken 9, Jonas Knudsen 6, Luke Chambers 6 Aristote Nsiala 6, Matthew Pennington 6, Trevoh Chalobah 7, Cole Skuse 7, Grant Ward 6 (Freddie Sears 81, N/A) Jon Nolan 6, Gwion Edwards 7 (Janoi Donacien 89, N/A) Kayden Jackson 5.
Subs not used: Dozzell, Tayo Edun, Downes, Graham, Bialowski.
Goals: Nolan 26, Pennington 41.
Yellow cards: Pennington 52 and 88, Skuse 90+3
Red card: Pennington 88.
Referee: John Brooks 6; Certainly a vast improvement on the last official at St Andrews. However, he allowed a lot of shirt pulls and mid-air pushes of players jumping for the ball to go unpunished and his assistants were ropey to say the least. The official on the family stand side allowed an Ipswich wide player standing at least ten yards offside to play on into a dangerous position to our byline in the second half which nearly resulted in Birmingham conceding a third. Fortunately the cross was cleared after a scramble and a very controversial incident avoided. Despite this Mr Brooks was at least consistent and the game was better for less stoppages that purists may have insisted upon. The man in the middle was absolutely correct in sending Ipswich’s Pennington off for two yellow cards following offences against Maghoma.