Saturday, 1 August 2015

Birmingham City 2 v Leicester City 3 - PSF

Saturday 1st August 2015
Pre Season Friendly
at St Andrew's
Birmingham City (2) 2
David Cotterill 23,
Demarai Gray 24
Leicester City (0) 3
Rob Huth 59,
Danny Drinkwater 76,
Shinji Okazaki 83
Admission £10. Programme £1.50.
Attendance: 7,026 (inc. 1731 in away end)
Birmingham City:
Kuszczak, Caddis, Morrison, Spector, Grounds, Kieftenbeld (Davis 64), Gleeson, Cotterill (Arthur 83), Shinnie (Toral 64), Gray (Maghoma 72), Donaldson (Novak 78). Subs not used: Legzdins, Robinson, Edgar, Eardley, Arthur, Thomas, Hancox, Brown.
Leicester City:
Schmeichel, Albrighton (Fuchs 72), Wasilewski (De Laet 45), Huth, Chilwell (Moore 45), Schlupp, King, Drinkwater, Mahrez, Vardy (Okazaki 72), Ulloa (Kramaric 45). Subs not used: Schwarzer, Hammond, Lawrence, Simpson, Nugent.
Claudio Ranieri's Foxes, started with a 3-5-2 formation, which for the first twenty minutes or so, saw them enjoying the bulk of the play, until Birmingham knocked them out of their stride with a brace of well taken goals, to give the home side a 2-0 lead, against the run of play.
Tomasz Kuszczak, making his home debut in Blues goal, had already endeared himself to the St. Andrew's faithful twice, with great reflex saves from Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy, before Marcin Wasilewski's foul on Demarai Gray, some twenty five yards from the visitors goal, gave David Cotterill the opportunity to try his luck from the resultant free kick.
Cotterill's precision effort moved around all over in the air, before evading the Foxes wall and Kasper Schmeichel on it's way to bulging the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
You don't stop those!
Within a minute, Birmingham's goalscorer became the provider, when he knocked the ball out wide to Gray on the left flank, who cut in, took a couple of steps forward and with everyone expecting him to cross unleashed an unstoppable shot that beat Schmeichel all ends up again.
You don't stop those either!
The Foxes must have been stunned, but it is a stark reality, that if you don't take your chances then any other percentages count for absolutely nothing.
Gary Rowett's side had responded well to being up against it from the off and were now two goals to the good in spite of having to absorb a lot of pressure from the visitors.
Vardy came close to reducing the arrears a couple of times and Jeffery Schlupp put a great chance over the bar, as Blues adopted an all hands to the pumps approach to defending and held out until the interval.
HT: Birmingham City 2 v Leicester City 0
Ranieri switched things around at half time, despite having seen his side dictate the pace for the majority of the opening 45 minutes and the Foxes now adopted a more traditional 4-4-2 system.
The Croatian forward Andrej Kramaric, on at half time in place of Leonardo Ulloa, crashed a shot against Kuszczak's upright, as Leicester continued to look for an elusive opening.
Marc Albrighton, once of Birmingham City's rivals Aston Villa, delivered a corner from the right wing, that Kramaric flicked on into the path of Rob Huth, who forced the ball home from close range to make it 2-1 after 59 minutes.
Blues needed another goal to stop the tide from engulfing them as Leicester began to take on the task of getting back into this competitive and entertaining game by the scruff of it's neck.
Gray came close to netting his second goal of the game following some good work from David Davis.
But the Premier League side were taking control of he game now.
Riyad Mahrez saw his shot crash back off of the woodwork and Drinkwater was on hand to level things up.
76 minutes gone, all square at 2-2 and everything to play for.
Mahrez was proving to be a real handful for Birmingham's defence, and on 83 minutes he powered past Jonathan Grounds and launched a cross into the path of Shinji Okazaki (the all time highest international goalscorer for Japan), who timed his run to perfection and met the ball with a crashing header, to put the finishing touches to a complete turnaround and seal an impressive comeback win for Ranieri's team.
It was tough on the host side, but on the balance of things I don't think that even the most blinkered Birmingham supporter could have argued that an away win was a fair result on the day.
Kramaric (and the Leicester fans in the Gil Merrick Stand) thought he had added a fourth goal to the Foxes tally in the dying moments of the game, but the officials ruled that the ball hadn't actually crossed the line, before the home defence and Kuszczak smothered it and looked across anxiously across at the assistant referee.
From where I was sat, I would have to say I would need to look at it again in slow motion to be sure, but I'm willing to accept that the correct decision was made ;-)
FT: Birmingham City 2 v Leicester City 3
Final thought.
I wonder if Cabrini have a factory based on Tracy Island where they produce football shirts?