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Mullet added 21:27 - Jan 23
Town came back to Birmingham in a familiar shape and sight of consolidating previous success. The scene of Mick's first step toward sainthood and last season's Great Escape. This time it was the Barca away kit nowhere to be seen as the Blues were resplendent in unofficial orange. A beacon of hope that gave way to alarm.

Gerken was fronted up by the usual back four. Dougie and Skuse the pistons that pumped behind Fraser on the left, Sears on the right and Bru in Murphy's shadow. Within the first 6 minutes Town had the best chance to open the scoring but were three shots down to the hosts' one. Murphy directing a Fraser cross off target when he might have done better.

In the mean time a drop of Buckley's shoulder opened up far more than his gait and deserved better than the drilled shot wide. It was to be a microcosm of the 90 in some respects. Knudsen was tireless in his defensive duties, but clearly well drilled to well, drill the ball up and forward. At times he found his mark perfectly and Fraser or Murphy ahead of him jostled into contention and space. On other occasions no one moved or was moved enough as nicely weighted balls crashed down in empty yards. Sears a mere spectator from the forgotten wing of a less than dramatic show.

When Town did get going they were good, but better battled by a home side that took hope from the deathly silence of a cold St Andrews. After 20 minutes more of Championship fayre so flat, it may have been a footballing ode to Norfolk, it was then the lethal strike came. As Birmingham forced Town back inside their own box it was vicious irony that saw Buckley walk the ball into the net unknowingly it seemed. First Tommy then Gerks put their body on the line. The Kiwi headed, the return forced a superb reaction from Gerken and despite suspicions of offside, the right winger came in from their left to leave Town trailing from a yard or so.

To say it was deserved is a matter of perspective as along with their sh1t, Town were losing theirs. Deservedly edged, we were yet to be cut to ribbons by a side not competent enough to parade past us just yet. Skuse was his usual self but Town's persistence in dropping long balls and short stabs at goal were failing to work. The lynchpin turned face and began to play the ball amongst the back four. As Town tacked passes from full back, to centre back and little beyond, time ticked for all of thirty seconds before isolated screams of dissent erupted.

The best section of the half again came in flurries. Murphy who had an early trio of chances from the flick of Bru and crosses of Fraser had seen the ball blast and bluster well beyond Kusczak and the goal. This time with a man on the floor for Brum, Ipswich concocted two shots from narrow angles the second a stinger from Sears. The resultant corner bounced off an Ipswich head and then the floor before the Pole clawed it from inside the post.

Such was the nature of the game that bad tempers and bad sportsmanship were par for the course. Controversy came in the simplest, shortest most scrutinised of moments. The ball ran free in the middle of the park, Douglas the quicker to move went in hard and studs showing. By body language alone, we knew what was coming. A red card flew from the pocket of the ref quicker than the challenge had and Town were done for. Dougie was trudging off as the only vocal fans in the ground voiced their displeasure and disbelief.

The unsavoury saltiness of the decision to neuter Ipswich because of Dougie's tackle came not in childish tears, but the wound caused much earlier when Fraser had been stopped from breaking in the bluenose's half by a far dirtier chop to his dainty little legs. Earlier doors and the game still revolving around play much slower than the Scot's momentum, earned Brum just a booking for such professionalism.

Seeing out the half was followed by the concourse soon buzzing with talk of wanting to watch the crime back. The memory of appeals from the remaining Town players as half hearted as the dull tension ache of optimism and agony wresting amid 2000 or so sets of Suffolk shoulders.

The burden fell to Hyam who replaced the axed Bru. The Mauritian had failed to conjure little in the number 10 role and the required holdfast mentality meant that banks of 441 replaced the pyramidical 4231 Mick had started with to stem the flow of slurry. It worked at first but rarely worked out.

Early anger from a jaded and juddering Town was soon replaced by a feeling of being green around the gills. Quick and successive attacks which swept down the right and across to the left flank were cut short as Buckley went softly to ground in his own area. Knudsen was given a cheeky grin as the nearest man. No sooner had the wideman's face dropped and the free kick left the Birmingham box then it landed in the back of Town's net. Toral connecting with a superb strike that must be an early contender for the home side's goal of the season.

In a game where Birmingham had at least a man's advantage and two goals to boot, it would fuel further fire across the away fans to see another Town player felled at hip height once again. In a pattern that saw sturdy lines of men go to battle over every ball, but lack the magic to run the game or the play. Meanwhile the hosts retreated and relented until the 30 yard mark from goal. Slamming shut the metaphorical door and metaphysical conventions of playing man or ball in a game ruled over, but not bound by rules from a random referee.

To say Town were out of it, came down to how one saw such body blows. Regardless as they mounted, we clearly felt it. Fraser and Knudsen ran into the space afforded them and nearly caused riots with both finding crosses but not colleagues (and in the case of the winger room to shoot but not much on target time and again). Sears had better going with less men and more to do in this half but was soon hooked when it became clear that neither he, nor Murphy had the legs or divinity to pull us back into the game. The home side happy to let us play, and play we did, but with a man over they were happy to leave the serious business to the defence and punch us on the break.

When Pitman and Varney replaced Sears and Murph; Town were long finished, with plenty left on the clock. Thanks to "Dutch Mike" the atmosphere that had been flat as a pancake saw the odd celebratory hymn billow a final time towards us. A shot from the holding midfielder let fly from the right side of the area, through a crowd of players and into the net. Had we had 11 sets of legs to work with maybe the telling touch might have been a ricochet wide, such is the bitter philosophy of being blown away in a game contested in a gentle ill-wind.

You could see the hurt and hunger on the Town players in the odd attack. And odd they sometimes were. Pitman received the ball from Fraser on the right but was backpeddling just too much to get a sight of goal. His dallied effort deserving much more. A sense of bruised pride rang out as support was put beyond the theories of men and came from the hearts and humours of a slowly dwindling travelling contingent.

With all bar the Dane going up for hard won corners, there was little falling to Town as mixed deliveries resulted in little. With Berra and Tommy taking turns to linger a little too long, the hunt for restorative justice brought the hammer down on us time and again. The worst of such was Smith hauling an already clumsy and ground-loving Donaldson down in stupid but necessary fashion on halfway.

A threat of a fourth was more real than it should have been. When Gerken was left to a one on one he was also left in a heap for some time. With no subs left, the panic of rush goalies and a descent into more schoolboy territory only abated with ginger steps from the felled glovesman.

When Fraser was put through near the death, with a foot to the head the incident was curious to a referee so dogged by being oblivious. He clearly wondered as to why what few Town could muster in the dying moments, surrounded him again. Despite the diminutive winger continuing the fight with his aggressor who laid patronisingly messianic hands on his wee head.

Much like when Clayton Donaldson went crashing to the ground and then the advertising board. The long legs of the striker, struck out and felled Knudsen as he took the throw. It was again curious that only Town saw red, let alone the incident.

It was a match that saw the hosts canter an embarrassing romp home, with a full compliment and coy apologies on the other side between fans walking out. It's bizarre not to feel that the deficit as well as their team could have been reduced significantly on the balance of such play. To talk about fouls and phantasm seems churlish, but it's hard not to be. Today we deserved to lose. To a team that at the start of this year who looked much like we did when we ended 2014 last season. Swaggering, functional, and fearless. But not like this.

This story is old, I know. But we march on. The question being, in the coming days will it be with new recruits or blood dried fast to the bandages of today's wound?
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MaySixth added 11:11 - Jan 24
Excellent stuff Mullet
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