Saturday, 14 April 2012

Birmingham City 2 v Bristol City 2 - npower Championship

Note* This is not the same St. Andrews I saw on Monday

Saturday 14th April 2012, at St.Andrews 
npower Championship
Birmingham City (1) 2
King 44, Zigic 61
Bristol City (2) 2
Pearson 21, Stead 33
Admission £25, Programme £3,
Attendance 23,230 (1,408 away fans)
Birmingham City:
Colin Doyle, Peter Ramage, Steven Caldwell, Curtis Davies, David Murphy, Chris Burke, Jordon Mutch, Keith Fahey (Morgaro Gomis 35), Andros Townsend (Nathan Redmond 76), Marlon King, Nikola Zigic (Erik Huseklepp 90).
Unused Subs - Pablo Ibanez.
Bristol City:
Dean Gerken, Liam Fontaine, Louis Carey, Kalifa Cisse, Andre Amougou, Cole Skuse (Hogan Ephraim 79), Richard Foster, Stephen Pearson, Martyn Woolford (Neil Kilkenny 90), Chris Wood, Jon Stead (Albert Adomah 73)
Unused Subs - David James, Yanick Bolasie
Bristol City manager Dennis McInne's first game in charge of the Robins, was back in October, when Birmingham City won 2-0 at Ashton Gate, courtesy of a brace of goals from Chris Burke.
As the teams faced up to each at St. Andrews today, they were both in need of points for completely different reasons.
Chris Hughton's Blues were looking to consolidate a play off place, whilst the visitors are fighting for their Championship survival.
On Monday, Birmingham had surrended a 3-1 half time lead at Upton Park, in a 3-3 draw with West Ham United, but today the the roles were reversed and they found themselves chasing a similar deficit as the visitors went two goals ahead inside the first 33 minutes.
And so say all of us
Blues keeper Boaz Myhill picked up a thumb injury during the pre match warm up and as a consequence, was replaced in the starting line up by Colin Doyle.
An expectant St. Andrew's crowd, witnessed a tentative start by the home side this afternoon, who took a while to get going, in front of their highest home league attendance of the season of 23,230; a figure that has only been bettered twice, when Nacional and Club Brugge visited in UEFA Europa League games.
The home defence were possibly guilty of standing off and giving Stephen Pearson too much time and space when he fired Bristol City in front on 21 minutes, from just inside the box, though it wasn't just the Blues defence who could be found guilty of such a crime during the opening exchanges, at times they looked reluctant to assert themselves or put a foot in all over the pitch.
Maybe it was nerves caused by the weight of expectancy, possibly they had under estimated their lowly opposition, but on 33 minutes it became evident that they were going to have to up the ante if they were going to get anything out of today's game, as Stephen Pearson created a second goal for the Ashton Gate side, when he cued up a shot for Jon Stead, who curled the ball over Colin Doyle and into the top corner of the net.
A disconsolate Colin Doyle retrieves the ball from the back
of his net, while the visitors celebrate Jon Stead's goal

Chris Burke, Birmingham's attacking engine room, forced a great save out of Dean Gerken and then put over an inviting cross for Nikola Zigic, but Blues big number 19 was a bit off the pace and the danger was thwarted.
I'm told Zigic is carrying a bit of a knock, which probably accounts for his lack of sharpness and prowess today.
One thing's for sure, when you are 2.02 metres tall, there is no place to hide from sharp tongued critics in a football crowd.
Psychologically, or so I'm told, it is always a good thing to score just before half time and Marlon King provided that lift for his team, whilst consigning the visitors to psychiatrists couch for the duration of the half time break, when the prolific Blues striker's 44th minute effort deflected wickedly off Louis Carey and beyond the despairing grasp of Dean Gerken, to make the half time score:
Birmingham City 1 v Bristol City 2.
Obviously the visitors 'shrink' did his job well, because they came flying out of the blocks after the break, but Jon Stead's wild shot flew high and wide.
Peter Rampage pushed forward for Birmingham and freed Marlon King on the right hand side of the visitors area. But this time there was no deflection and Dean Gerken got his angles right to block the shot.
Martyn Woolford threatened for the Bristol City, but Colin Doyle got down well and held onto the winger's shot.
Peter Ramage, up to bolster the home side's attack again, teed up a great pass into the path of Chris Burke, who set up a chance on a plate for Nikola Zigic, who (even having the anonymous sort of game he was) couldn't miss from close range and the scores were level.
Chris Hughton's side try to turn the screw now, but both David Murphy and Steven Caldwell put goalscoring chances over the crossbar, while the visitors dug in and held onto a desperately needed point.
Though all three points would've done both teams end of season quests a whole lot of good today, a point apiece didn't exactly do either of them any harm.
Former Blues loan signing Chris Wood, puts on a brave face and tries to ignore
what somebody has painted about him on the roof across the far side of the pitch
Birmingham now face a tricky run in, with away games at Ipswich Town and Brighton & Hove Albion, followed by a home game against league leaders Reading.
Bristol City, face a nail biting climax to the season, with two games at home against West Ham United and Barnsley, followed by a journey on the final day of the season to face Burnley at Turf Moor.
Current standings.
Top 2 automatically promoted, third to sixth positions play off for the other promotion spot, bottom three relegated.
Each team still has three games left to play (played 43).
Reading beat Southampton 3-1 away at St. Mary's Stadium last night.
Mathematically, there are some crucial games coming up for nearly all of the teams listed in the caption below with everything still to play for; unless you're a Doncaster Rovers fan. Their relegation was confirmed today when they lost 3-4 at home to Portsmouth.
By all accounts the referee at the Keepmoat Stadium had a shocker.
That version of events came from several reliable sources and - for a change - wasn't just an excuse from Rovers manager Dean Saunders .... not this time!
Top 10
1 Reading 43 85
2 Southampton 43 82
3 West Ham Utd 43 79
4 Birmingham City 43 71
5 Blackpool 43 68
6 Cardiff City 43 68
7 Middlesbrough 43 66
8 Brighton & Hove Albion 43 63
9 Leicester City 43 62
10 Hull City 43 62

Bottom 7
18 Peterborough United 43 48
19 Nottingham Forest 43 47
20 Barnsley 43 47
21 Bristol City 43 44
22 Coventry City 43 40
23 Portsmouth 43 37
24 Doncaster Rovers 43 32

Tomorrow ... 'mon Hearts!!!