Friday, 24 February 2017

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 v Birmingham City 2 - EFL Championship

Friday 24th February 2017
SkyBet EFL Championship
at Molineux Stadium
Wolverhampton Wanderers (0) 1
Nouha Dicko 73
Birmingham City (2) 2
Maikel Kieftenbeld 27, David Davis 32
Admission £15.00. Programme £3
Attendance: 27,541
And you thought your club's programme cover was weird
Wolverhampton Wanderers:
Ikeme, Coady, Batth, Stearman, Doherty, Price, Saville (Dicko 46), Helder Costa, Edwards, Weimann, Bodvarsson
Unused subs - Lonergan, Enobakhare, Saiss, White, Williamson, Marshall
Birmingham City:
Kuszczak, Dacres-Cogley, Shotton, Robinson, Nsue (Stewart 78), Davis, Tesche, Kieftenbeld, Keita, Gardner (Bielik 55), Adams
Unused subs - Legzdins, Gleeson, Frei, O'Keeffe, Sinclair
This win for Gianfranco Zola's side, saw them edge up the table into thirteenth place, still fifteen points behind Sheffield Wednesday, in the nearest play off position (which is well out of reach for Birmingham now), but also thirteen points above the drop zone, which was starting to loom ominously closer (and closer) as Blues recent slump in results continued.
I promise that this is the very last time that I will mention the name of their previous manager, but ironically, tonight's win came from the sort of performance that you would have associated with Gary Rowett's reign in the St Andrew's hot seat, in as much as, flair was sacrificed by the need to grind out a  result with a backs to the wall performance that saw the visitors grind  out a result, while absorbing a lot of pressure as Wolves attempted to stage a second half comeback against a ten man Blues side, who played out the last forty minutes a man short, after their captain Paul Robinson had allegedly raised his arm to Dadi Bodvarsson.
As of Friday 24.2.16
Birmingham opened the scoring after twenty seven minutes, when Carl Ikeme completely misjudged the flight of  Craig Gardner's right-wing cross and could only divert the ball into the path of Maikel Kieftenbeld, who slid in to nudge the ball into the unguarded net. Dame Fortune, for one night only, smiled on Gianfranco Zola tonight and his relief was clear for all to see.
Five minutes later, Che Adams ball into the area was deflected into the path of David Davis who curled a shot past Ikeme to double Blues advantage. And while the sold out visitors section in the lower tier of the Steve Bull stand celebrated wildly, the former Wanderers player raised his finger to his lips towards the South Bank, from where he had been receiving a fair amount of stick on his return to Molineux and beckoned the 'Yam army' to shush.
Just to rub the home fans noses in it that little bit more, Davis was also awarded with the man of the match award tonight.
In the second half and especially after Robinson's dismissal, Blues had to withstand a fair amount of pressure, especially from a string of set pieces in their final third and Nouha Dicko set up a grandstand finish to the game, when he turned in a low cross from Helder Costa, who had taken advantage of  Emilio Nsue's misplaced pass in the seventy third minute.
The stop/start nature of this encounter and a whistle happy referee, broke up the flow and momentum of the game somewhat, which added to the frustration of those among the visiting support who weren't enjoying the very real possibility of a  Wolves comeback.
Ryan Shotton and  Krystian Bielik, both made vital interceptions as Blues rearguard began to creak under the pressure Wolves were applying, but they held on, right until the end of nine minutes of stoppage time, to claim the bragging rights against the Black Country side.
FT: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 v Birmingham City 2
Please excuse the brevity of this overview, this roving reporter is currently sat on Derby railway station, waiting between train connections on my way home. On my way here I have seen first hand how desperate the West Midlands police force are to reclaim their crown as the worst behaved towards football supporters in the whole country... no further comment!
The sights and sounds of the kind of people who frequent such places at this unearthly hour are akin to what you'd expect if you wandered inadvertently into the epicentre of a Zombie apocalypse. I probably fit into all of this far more readily than I'd care to contemplate.
Tonight's result saw Wolves slip into twentieth place in the table, after Burton Albion drew at home to Blackburn Rovers to ease (ever so slightly) their own relegation worries.
Don't wait up!