Written by Neil Dawson
When I’m lying on my death bed and reoccurring memories flash before me of things I saw most often in my life they will include my mum’s smile, my kids laughing, my Christmas tree going up and down and Birmingham City fans leaving the ground ten minutes before full time making a w**ker sign at me.
Yes, we were back at the happiest hunting ground I can remember (I’m sure some statto might confirm it’s Hillsborough) looking for and getting our fourth win in a row. It was almost a disappointment that we didn’t need an abacus for the goals but let’s be thankful for small mercies and a 15-2 aggregate scoreline over those visits.
This time it felt very different, City, wracked with financial and administrative difficulties leaving two stands empty, bereft of the cash to get the safety certificates and building work done. That left a lot of season ticket holders unable to attend and the ones that were there singing the very unique ‘we want our seat back’ – I’m not sure it will catch on as a terrace chant but I didn’t think we’d sing Sweet Caroline so what do I know? Mind you, if I was a Blues fan the only seat I would want back during a home game would be one in front of a TV showing something else – and preferably somewhere other than Birmingham.
Scott Parker made one change tonight – Leif Davis slotting in for a rare (we found out why) right-wing run out to replace David Brooks leaving the rest of the side the same. I think it was a game too soon for Junior Stanislas and Ben Pearson.
The first half is probably the easiest half to report on as literally, nothing happened. In terms of robbery, it was the most obvious stealing of ticket money in this area since the Peaky Blinders hung up their caps. Something rare happened to me at an away game about 40 mins in – I sat down through boredom and tried to re-download Candy Crush for something to do. No shots on or off target in 45 mins for us – a couple of smart but routine stops for Travers from Leko and Chong for them. Chong was excellent and the player of the half strutting about like a 70’s funk bass playing maestro with that majestic hair. We defended excellently but attack wise were all over the place. Leif reminding me of the old management cliche about not judging a fish on its ability to climb a tree as he was as comfortable on the right-wing slot as Travers would have been, with a centre half in Mepham trying to overlap occasionally. This imbalanced the side with everything having to go left.. where Chong was there to intercept and run away. More of the tactical stuff in the verdict anyway…
HT Brum 0 AFCB 0
The second half started in the same pattern – we started singing ‘attack, attack’ giving poor Scott Parker flash-backs of Fulham fans in most home games last season and it all started to look like we were headed for a rare scoreless game at St Andrew’s to reset the averages. Scott realised a change was due and replaced Marcondes (the last time anything drifted as much as he did tonight it was attended to by the RNLI) with Stan, swiftly followed by Pearlo for Leif – switching Anthony to the right and going with two sitting midfielders to stop the chasm Kilkenny was trying to manage on his own previously.
It all worked a treat. The flanks started to dominate for us, we had more possession higher and when we didn’t the two sitting midfielders wrestled it back. We went in front when Pearlo’s long ball was latched on to by SOLANKE to finish tremendously well across Sarkic under pressure. Birmingham simply ran out of ideas after that and the goal-scorer a lot of fans had waited for this season followed in ten minutes to wrap things up. Stan was winning a sea of corners down the right and he worked out a routine with Ibsen Rossi right in front of us and executed it to perfection. The young centre back peeled away to the back post to head the corner straight into the path of ANTHONY who finished with joyous aplomb into the top corner to spark wild celebrations in the adjacent away end.
FT Brum 0 AFCB 2
Man of the match against Birmingham