|Birmingham City 0 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 3rd November 2012 Kick-off 15:00
|ChrisBeeston added 19:23 - Nov 3|
But you need a bit of luck sometimes and will settle for that! So pleased!
Mullet added 20:29 - Nov 3
We found ourselves back in the country’s heart of darkness which is a trip to St. Andrews to see that the new man tweaked a Town side with a slightly lopsided approach. Putting Edwards, Chambers, Higginbotham and Cresswell in front of Henderson; N’Daw sat in front of them with NRC to his right and Wellens to his left but still central. Martin was wandering around the far right like an excitable Nick Griffin while Murphy proved adept at finding space and knock downs for DJ up top.
The game opened brightly for Town who used the width afforded to Cresswell and Martin and the packed but robust midfield, shifted and slotted into space. It was clearly frustrating a Birmingham side reduced to long punts and lateral movement for much of the opening twenty. In fact it was Town’s effort which carved out half chances and possession early on.
Reo-Coker and N’Daw where the beating heart of the midfield and while there was still some arrhythmia to accompany the imbalance in shape, there was energy and willing aplenty. In fact a goal was soon to come with Martin on the flank finding space and charging towards the box, under challenge he found the magnificent Campbell who seemed to fade just too wide too soon. It was anything but a lucky break and DJ beat his man to fire with exquisite power and accuracy past Butland. The huge town fan swelled by curiosity went wild! Huzzah!
Shortly before that we had received a royal wave from Mick. Resplendent in blue polyester he raised a regal arm our way in response to our chants, Terry took his bow soon after. Feelings were running high and so was the tempo of the game.
The prodigious Redmond and uncouth King gave Town a bit to think about and although they worked hard, it took them a long time to force Henderson into any real action thanks to the busy Lita making room. Quick off the mark all game the borrowed glovesman parried a fierce drive from Wade Elliot down at his near post. It must have made a change from sweeping up whatever got past N’Daw ahead of the back four. We looked determined to play the way we were facing from the defence out.
Niggling fouls piled up against Town like dandruff on an old man’s shoulder as the hosts looked for a free kick at every opportunity. Gifted one right on the edge of the box from a tangle, Henderson was asked to parry a stout drive from King who for once took no for an answer. Town scrambled away the resultant corner to relieve what had been a spell of pressure.
There was much to come from ourselves and it was encouraging. The fittingly clad Town players in crisp and classic white had welcomed their fresh start with much vigour this afternoon. Higginbotham smashed a drive against a defender from a flicked corner to drive the point home.
Wellens’ efforts from the quarter-circled where often akin to those a maligned Mackem, regardless they still yielded chances. Another one saw Edwards release the ball to Martin who charge towards the edge of the box and hit a vicious left footed drive. It swerved away from Butland but was still too close to beat the keeper who palmed it wide. I thought he might emulate his effort from the same fixture earlier this year but alas it was not to be. A sweet 2 step interchange between DJ and Murphy saw the giant Irishman felled in the box with a far greater thud than a misfiring Spaniard. No penalty, no booking it was a sign the ref had no clue at times.
As half time came, so did burgeoning hope and fear from the vocal and buoyant away end. We’d kept Brum frustrated and at arm’s length with solid movement, breaks using energy and space and bar the odd misplaced pass saw Town remain pleasingly surefooted. Cresswell had been pinned back as Redmond was moved to restrain him. Emphasising his defensive role after weeks of poor performances he was a changed lad. Good in the air, sure of himself and looking much improved it was heartening to see as a microcosm of a squad reinvigorated if yet to be refurbished.
Town started the second half as they ended the first but Brum had obviously gotten some stick in the dressing room. The hosts enjoyed some more incisive possession but it did leave gaps for us to play with when they let us.
Campbell became slightly more isolated as Murphy looked to come deeper to win the ball and the loanees combined well enough to close down the backline repeatedly. It didn’t always yield possession but it made up for it in territory. With Birmingham opting to go long it was unsurprising to see the Serbian golem unleashed. Targeting Edwards, Zigic’s aerial presence caused us a few problems.
In fact not long after he was on the lanky saboteur of last season’s defeat wasted a header in space slamming it wide. It was the first of a few familiar let offs reminiscent of last week’s Ipswich. Had Higginbotham buried his back-post header earlier in the half, the relief might not have been so palpable. As pressure grew and nerves began to fray around me Mohsni spent a record amount of time warming up. As Zigic again shot wide, fouled Henderson and squandered attacking possession the Tunisian utility man watched on for maybe ten minutes.
Finally introduced after N’Daw injured himself out of the game, Billy cut a figure of mad optimism and desire. Booked for an innocuous tangle with his marker he charged down everything, went for headers and was unlucky not to score. A lovely move saw Murphy (who had gone wide to allow the sub’s fresh legs a run at the defence) sail a neat ball from the touchline just too high for Billy to bury.
Town sat back as the clock ticked down, slightly like a cat with a nostril full of cream as the Bluenoses’ red faces were compounded by them blasting over from a few yards out following more pressure. JET was introduced in injury time as was the anonymous Drury.
The youngster’s first involvement was to bring down the ball and charge arselong into the defender. Hoofed away a bizarre half-scorpion kick from Murphy saw a corner conceded by town in three easy moves such was the ding dong nature of the closing flurry. Along with Billy doing a rampant Ian Marshall impression Jay’s next forays on the break were more successful keeping Butland on his toes.
When the whistle came the disbelief and cheers were hard not to take for granted. Far from a vintage performance the managerial debut of Mick is a JFK moment nonetheless. The same players previously so bereft of everything you expect as a fan, were renewed with a point to prove. Relief was etched deep on the faces of those celebrating in front of the large and jubilant Town fans – Chambers may or may not have soiled himself as he extended his exertions commendably beyond the whistle.
NRC would take my nod for the champagne bottle and handshake. Had N’Daw matched his long range passing with his cultured short range control of the game he might have taken it for me. Campbell takes the bronze medal for Maradonnaesque work along the line. Finally a win, finally precious three points, finally signs of life in amongst the petrified dead wood of before. It’s a long road we’re on but never has being bottom of any league felt this good.
cbower added 22:29 - Nov 3
A very healthy and distinctly more vocal away support sought to lift the gloom and the boys in white (always liked a white/ black away strip myself) made a reasonable start. N'Daw, NRC and Wellens looked in control whilst Martin chased and harried down the right. It was a ball (maybe a shot) from Martin which found its way to Campbell in the area after 8 minutes and the on-loan striker slammed the ball past Butland in the home goal. Cue ecstatic scenes in the away end as we celebrated vociferously the beginning of a new era. Nevertheless, we all know not to get carried away and the party atmosphere remained tempered in the knowledge that we can throw leads away with alarming ease and frequency.
Brum were really not looking that threatening. N'Daw broke up the play, has a nice first touch and generally looked to do the simple things well. Higginbotham and Chambers were having the better of King and Lita whilst Cresswell was carrying out his dfensive duties with much competency than of late and still finding the chance to attack down the left. Henderson made a couple of decent stops in the Town goal whilst at the other end Higgy had an effort blocked and Martin brought a fine save from Butland with a left footed drive from distance. Murphy seemed to get clear in the Brum box just before the interval but it looked to me that he delayed too long before going to ground under heavy pressure. At half-time, we were decent value for the lead.
For the opening ten minutes of the second period, the home side increased the tempo but the boys matched this, not allowing home defenders or midfielders any time to settle on the ball. Town forced a few corners and from an Edwards cross, Higginbotham powered a header goalwards. Butland saved and the ball was forced out for another corner. We looked fairly comfortable until mid-way through the half, the giant Zigic replaced Lita up front and the home side resorted more to the long ball, mainly targetting Edwards as the looked to exploit the massive strikers' aerial prowess. Not long after, the first clear opportunity fell to the Serbian Crouch-a-like's head. Unlike last year, this time he failed to hit the target - he should have scored. A few minutes later, Zigic let us off the hook again as he hit Henderson's legs when one-on-one - he should have scored again!
The fans were nervous and perhaps Mick McCarthy was too. Moshni stripped off to come on, got his instructions but Mick changed his mind and delayed the change. The home side pressed and a couple of scares came and went before MM took the plunge, replacing the impressive but tiring Wellens with the rawness and willingness of Moshni. Murphy move wide left and the Frenchman looked to support a tired looking Campbell up front. It almost paid off. After picking up a yellow for an arm infringement, Moshni almost got on the end of a Murphy cross from the left, just failing to get enough of his head on the ball to direct it goalward. N'Daw went down with cramp a couple of minutes later and was replaced by Drury. JET also came on for DJ Campbell and was able to show one or two nice touches with the game still on a knife edge. We found ourselves, understandably getting deeper but for once we held out for a precious three points. Party time for the fans and MM waved his troops towards the travelling faithful. Higginbotham and Campbell seemed really pleased whilst Chambers could not hide his joy - good man!
Some comments on the players:
Henderson - decent stops, some good catches and punches. Competent performance
Edwards - decent effort. Not sure MM will play him at right back with his tendency to drift inside at times
Cresswell - much, much better all-round display
Chambers - best performance I have seen him give in a Town shirt
Higginbotham - didn't see him put a foot wrong today
N'Daw - aside from one shot that went for a throw-in, he was good today. Hope he is fit for Tuesday. I like what he brings - breaking up the play, protecting the back four and not panicking on the ball.
Reo-Coker - class will out. Good today and is clearly getting some sort of fitness level
Wellens - shame Palace will probably be his last game for us unless his loan is extended. Doubt this will happen as Leicester have got what they wanted - a fitter player!
Martin - more good work rate from Lee. Will be interesting to see how the contract stuff goes for Lee under McCarthy.
Murphy - not my ideal centre forward as despite his size, Murph just doesn't use his physicality enough for me. Having said that, this is his best position and he is currently our best option in a 4-4-2 formation. He was decent enough today
Campbell - busy, intelligent and 3 goals in five games is not too shabby in a struggling side is it?
Moshni - you have to love his all action style and he can clearly play a bit. Will watch how his situation develops with interest over the next couple of months. He could be good for Town
JET - how Mick McCarthy uses him is a big question for me. If JET responds to the challenge it could be the making of the boy. Mick surely won't tolerate him drifting in and out of games, looking disinterested. Time for JET to roll his sleeves up and make the most of his considerable talents.
Drury - not much to report. A squad player at best for me
Great to see more than 1000 Town fans in god spirits leaving a ground - it's been a long-time coming
Thanks for reading!
cornishblu added 16:34 - Nov 4
a more palatable 10.00am start (Birmingham one of our closest games) saw us travel with v little optimism but eager to see whether MM would have an early influence on the team.....the day had a poor start...Holloway going to CP (why didn't we go for him??), the mancs beating arsenal....could this day get any worse??
Birmingham was freezing little cornishblu turning blue after refusing to wear a coat......but soon warmed up after an early goal that was greeted with an air of flatness as this usually now means that we get beaten 2 -1.
Not so Saturday.....a team that chased after every ball, made sure they were competitive for every loose ball and challenged where they should have been doing these past few weeks....MM in summing up was spot on to say that the team should be embarrassed to be in the position that we are in if we can fight like that....what has been going on in the dressing room?? .....a timely nudge to remind any of these "I'm bigger than the club" players that MM successfully saw off RK in his playing days.....MM clearly a man not to be messed with and made his mark immediately.
Henderson..... don't get the optimism ...flaps too much, cant catch a shot and too inclined to come way off his line to punch a cross weakly out....albeit credit to him for the stop from the Jolly Green Giant
Cresswell..... glimpses of what he used to be like..
Higginbottom....and Chambers ...OK...great to see both players reactions post the final whistle.
Edwards.....am thinking MM will push him forward as soon as EH is fit
Martin.....full of promise lacks final ball ...sold in Jan???...be a shame
Reo Coker....my MoM ...premiership class oozed by controlling midfield
N'Daw.....great holding midfield....gave ball away too easily ....needs to distribute quicker to those with the ball playing skills and stick to what he clearly does well.
Wellens....put in a good shift not the future though.
DJ Cambell......ran his heart out all game and great goal.....could have should have had a couple more
Murphy.....played better in the more narrow front set up.
As a side note Luke and Scott looked thoroughly fed up not even to have been included in the squad....MM needs to keep them smiling.
....so could the day get any worse.....not based on the smiles of the lads as they left the ground....not even naaaarrrich winning dented that....got down the M5 just as the snow was coming down....how bad could the day have been though!!
MM has made a small in road....players should be delighted with the result....bring on CP....take a point and onward and upward (well safety anyway)
You need to log in to participate in Your Report