Saturday 25th November.
Here I am again on the sun drenched shores of the Eastern Mediterranean
missing the rain like a hole in the head, but once again prepared
to sit on a chilly balcony to monitor Town’s progress. What a fool!
I was so cold last week after the QPR match (it made me feel as
though I was really there!) that this week I will wear my jeans
and a jacket instead of shorts and T-shirt. I must look a bit of
a pillock, but these things just have to be done.
This week I had to sit though a full match commentary of Everton
v Chelsea, which was exciting (not), and the 2 first half updates
did not bring very good news with Birmingham taking a 2-goal lead.
This was disappointing although not particularly unexpected, but
what was unexpected was Town pulling a goal back in the early part
of the second half. I strained my ears due to the poor reception
conditions hoping for news of a second but it was not to be. Last
weeks performance must have been a flash in the pan and I would
need a couple of pints of Keo to numb the pain. As with last week’s
game, the report below was written posthumously.
The side was very much as the one which performed so well against
QPR last week, with the exception of the returning Chris Lucketti
displacing Kevin Gray who was named as one of the substitutes alongside
Kenny Irons back from illness (again?). Craig Armstrong continued
his midfield role to try to give Town some more bite, and Lou Macari
seems to think that this is his best position.
Continuing where they left of in West London last week Town
began very brightly, showing plenty of industry and Martin Smith
hit the post in the 4th minute as they caught Birmingham flat footed.
Birmingham’s impressive home record was tested on a number of occasions
in the opening period as the front line of Baldry, Smith and Gallen
all went close. Many of our woes this season have stemmed from our
inability to actually convert the chances we are creating and once
again it was our failing. Nico Vaesen wasn’t entirely a spectator,
but when Birmingham scored the opener it was against the run of
Having dealt with earlier efforts from Johnson and Grainger,
Vaesen was finally beaten by Australian Stan Lazaridis in the 25th
minute. A through ball from former Town target (?) Nicky Eaden caused
hesitation in the defence, and Nico seemed to be caught out as the
ball slowed up on the drenched playing surface and Lazaridis slotted
the ball home. A couple of weeks ago Town would have fallen like
a pack of cards, but Macari and Jordan see to have instilled a sense
of self belief and they immediately went in search of an equaliser.
Martin Smith had a header saved by keeper Bennett almost straight
from the restart, and they continued to press as further chances
were created for both Smith and Gallen, but once again the imminent
half time whistle proved to be their downfall. So many times this
season Town have conceded around the half time interval, and perhaps
they should take up one of the Rugby codes and take their half-time
cuppa 5 minutes earlier. Former Halifax and Fulham striker Geoff
Horsfield managed to escape the attentions of Jon Dyson long enough
to make room to shoot for goal as Chris Lucketti and Nico Vaesen
slid in to dispossess him.
To their credit they returned to the field in positive mood
for the second half and could have halved the deficit in the first
few minutes. Fast improving Simon Baldry blazed over from just 6
yards from a Kevin Gallen pass, when it seemed easier to score.
Town continued to boss the second half and received some reward
from an unlikely source on the hour mark.
Kevin Gallen played a sweet ball through to the overlapping
Simon Baldry whose low cross was met by team captain Craig Armstrong.
Town’s newly converted midfield had raced 40 yards to convert his
effort, and is hardly noted for his goal scoring prowess, his only
other goal coming a couple of years ago soon after arriving at the
McAlpine (I think). With busy Town outworking the home side at least
a point looked possible as Birmingham failed to produce a single
on target effort in the second half.
Baldry, Gorré and Irons all had late efforts which came to
nothing, and more or less at the death Martin Smith could have secured
a draw when he was one on one with keeper Ian Bennett but lost control
of the ball and the chance evaporated.
It seems to have been another performance full of promise, yet
once again (I always seem to say this) yielding nothing tangible
on the points front. The new management do seem to have upped the
workrate that is so vital if we want to start winning again, and
the last two performances seem to have had all of the right ingredients
apart from the vital win. One or two weaker links seem to have been
weeded out, and despite the fact that we continue to lose ground
on the teams above us I feel strangely positive – although a sum
total of 8 points probably still leaves us too much to do to escape
the drop. We have a busy December with 2 home games next followed
by 3 away and then 2 more home fixtures. If we are still in the
same position in the league at the turn of the year we really are
up the creek without a paddle!
Birmingham City 2 (Lazaridis 25, Horsfield
TOWN 1 (Armstrong 60)
Position in table – 24th
Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Kozluk (Irons
87); Armstrong; Dyson; Lucketti; Baldry; Holland (Gorré 84);
Gallen; Smith; Thornley (Facey 79). Subs not used – Margetson;
Birmingham City – Bennett; Edghill (Burchill
52); Purse; M Johnson; Grainger; Eaden; O’Connor; Hughes;
Adebola (Sonner 52); Horsfield; Lazaridis (Burrows 86). Subs
not used – Poole; A Johnson.
Referee – Scott Mathieson (Stockport).