Date: 16th March 2015 at 7:06pm
Written by:

Birmingham City 1-1 Huddersfield: Match Report

Pre-match Thoughts:


On the back of three successive defeats, Town needed to bounce back and Powell opted to do so by bringing Harry Bunn back into the fold and resting the seemingly jaded Sean Scannell. This meant that Powell rewarded Joe Lolley after a promising league debut against Rotherham. Birmingham on the other hand made two changes with ex-Town player Lee Novak and Lloyd Dyer dropping out of the starting line-up for Clayton Donaldson and Demarai Gray.

Tale of the Tie:

After a horrific week in terms of results, Town knew that they needed to start fast and take it to Birmingham and Town did exactly that, knocking the ball around confidently and Coady got the better of Demarai Gray but his cross was wayward and didn’t trouble the Birmingham defence, although in the past couple of games, it’s been the opposition that has started better, in this case it was Town and they were looking to pounce on Birmingham mistakes and in the 5th minute, a poor pass by David Cotterill was picked up by Joe Lolley who ran at the defence but Spector got across well to prevent Lolley from having a shot at goal with an excellent recovery tackle but the ball landed at Robinson’s feet who tested Randolph with a low strike but he held onto it well.

In the 7th minute, the home side had their first real opportunity of note as Hudson conceded a cheap foul climbing on the back of Clayton Donaldson but Cotterill wasn’t able to replicate the feat of beating Smithies by a free-kick like he could in the reverse fixture as his attempt was too low and blocked by the wall. Aside the free-kick attempt, Town still looked like the more lively team and more likely to score as Vaughan picked up a good position between the two centre-halves but on this occasion, his shot skewed just wide of Randolph’s post.

GOAL Despite such as a promising open 10 minutes, Birmingham opened the scoring in the 10th minute as Paul Caddis provided the overlap as he ran down the left and cut the ball back to Cotterill who took the ball into to his strike and fired it low and hard into the opposite corner, out of Smithies reach and it was a soft goal to concede from Town’s perspective and made it much more difficult to get the 3 points that they desperately needed.

The goal seemed to deflate Town and Town were now on the back foot as they continued to concede cheap free-kicks but Coady dealt with Cotterill’s whipped free-kick with ease but it was Cotterill who was at the heart of Birmingham’s attack and he won Birmingham a corner in the 14th minute but Tesche couldn’t turn in the resulting corner which he met at the near post but was unable to guide goal wards. Town did well to survive that spell of pressure and Joe Lolley continued to be a useful attacking outlet as his first touch took him away from the covering defender which allowed him to run at the Birmingham defence but he lost his composure as his attempt at goal flew over the bar.

In the 22nd minute, the newly introduced Sean Scannell who had come on for the unfit Harry Bunn was unable to convert Tommy Smith’s low cross and fired it over at the back post. Town however did look nervous at the back especially from set-pieces and Tesche was picked out once again from a right-wing corner but despite being unmarked, he could only head straight at Smithies.

GOAL!! However three-minutes later and Town were back level. A Jack Robinson long throw caused confusion in the Birmingham 18 yard and both Vaughan and Lolley going for the ball before the latter emphatically smashed the ball to his and the Town fan’s delight. Town looked much better since Scannell had been introduced and he managed to beat a number of men before Caddis stopped him and shielded the ball out for a goal-kick. In the 31st minute, Birmingham could’ve been back in the league with Cotterill and Shinnie linking up with the latter forcing a save out of Smithies at his near-post.

But a key chance for Town came just two minutes later, Lolley found Butterfield down the right and he found Scannell at the back post who played it back to Butterfield but his shot squeezed just wide of the post. In the 38th minute, it was Birmingham’s turn to waste a gilt-edge opportunity as on the counter, it was a 2 on 1 situation but Demarai Gray couldn’t find Clayton Donaldson and Town somehow survived. In the 40th minute, Town worked the ball well to Butterfield wide on the left but Butterfield’s cross couldn’t pick out Vaughan.

Butterfield’s influence on the game grew with Butterfield and Vaughan inter-changing to win Town a corner and Butterfield’s corner picked out Lynch at the near post who connected sweetly but Randolph did wonderfully to keep out Lynch’s bullet header at the back post. It meant that both teams went into the game level and it was probably a fair reflection on the game.

Second Half

The second half started in almost an identical way to the first as they forced the issue and it took only took 3 minutes for Town to win their first corner of the half. Butterfield was able to find Mark Hudson but he was unable to direct his header goal wards and the opportunity went amiss with Birmingham clearing with ease. In the 51st minute however possession was gifted to Tesche as Butterfield slipped, he found Cotterill down the right hand side but he was unable to pick out Clayton Donaldson who had pulled away into space. Demarai Gray’s influence on the game was increasing as Town gradually became more tired, in the 55th minute; Smithies did well to hold onto his shot following a good advantage from referee Paul Tierney. The game was now end to end and Town forced three successive corners as Birmingham were penned into their own half but there was no opportunities as Birmingham dealt with it comfortably.

In the 65th minute, Smithies pulled out a top drawer save to prevent Paul Caddis getting on the team sheet from a free-kick as he clawed it away. In the 67th minute, Wes Thomas came on for Birmingham and three minutes after his introduction, he should’ve scored. Following a mistake from Mark Hudson, the ball was pulled back to Thomas with time and space but Hudson somehow recovered to make a goal-saving interception. In the 75th minute, we saw Town’s second substitution as Lolley made way for Gobern and it seemed that Powell had given up on trying to win the game and was settling for a draw however despite this, Town were closest to getting on the score sheet for the second time as Smith’s long diagonal ball found Coady in space and he fired it across the face of goal but no player in black and red anticipated it and the chance was wasted. It could’ve been a lot worse for Town in the 88th minute when Lloyd Dyer blasted the ball into the side-netting having made the most of Jack Robinson being out of position due to injury. This was the last chance of the game as the remaining seven minutes petered out with both sides settling for a share of the spoils.

Man of the Match:

I think that for two games in a row, Joe Lolley deserves the man of the match award. He was one again influential in everything that Town did well attacking wise and also got a vital goal against his bitter rivals. Hopefully his success in the two games he’s started will help cement his place in Town’s team until the end of the season and moving forwards.

Conclusion:

After an awful week, this was a much improved performance but it was two points dropped rather than one point game. Yet another game where Town were on the front for large majorities of it and could’ve made the most of it by going all out for the win but there’s a negative mentality which is quickly being associated with Powell and Powell’s tactics.

Luckily I think that Town will have just about enough to survive but I do think it questions if the team has actually progressed from last season like mentioned in Dean Hoyle’s notes regarding the Signing for Town campaign. It leaves Town 18th and 9 points above the relegation zone going into two tricky home games against in-form Norwich and fellow struggling Fulham


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