Date:Wednesday November 5 2008
It just had to be.
It had to be that with Blues struggling to put the ball in the back of the net, it would take an ex-striker to show how it`s done. Clinton Morrison returned to haunt Blues with a third goal in three games to highlight the weaknesses in the Blues line up.
James McFadden, Cameron Jerome, Kevin Phillips, Marcus Bent, Sebastian Larsson, Quincy, Kemy Agustien, Franck Queudrue. Eight top class finishers. No goals.
For the first time, in a long time, Blues have lost back to back matches, but above all, it will be the inability to find the killer instinct that will worry Alex McLeish and his backroom staff.
It started well, as has often been the case for Blues this season. We looked dangerous with the combination of Jerome, Phillips and McFadden. Even though Coventry were pressing Blues all over the pitch, Kevin Phillips nearly sneaked an opening goal in the 13th minute but a combination of a poor touch and good defending denied the veteran poacher.
But then they started. Coventry started to grow in the game and cam close on several occasions in the next period of play. Morrison was bright, as you would expect, and in the first 15-20 minutes, all of the shots for Coventry came from the ex-Blues striker. He came closest when he rattled the crossbar from close range, but being brutally honest, he should`ve stuck it away to put Coventry ahead.
Half time came and went, and with the second half beginning, it was clear that Blues had to step it up a gear and really try to force themselves upon their opponents. A good plan, shame the players couldn`t put it into practice.
A Coventry corner after 53 minutes was headed on, and Morrison, was inexplicably left with a free header from close range, to put Coventry one up. After hitting the crossbar previously, he wasn`t going to miss this one.
One-nil down, it seemed as if Blues now had no other choice but to start attacking more and more. Nigel Quashie came on for Agustien, a strange substitution for me, because Quashie isn`t really the man you want to see coming off the bench when you need a goal, but it was understandable due to a quiet performance from Agustien. This substitution was quickly followed up by the arrival of Marcus Bent for Phillips, and Quincy for a Jerome who looked off form.
Finally Blues started to play better football, but this still left them open to the counter attack. Jay Tabb, a player who i once had great respect for, before his terrible diving antics during the game, had a perfect chance to make it 2-0 but he leant back and the chance went begging.
As Blues pushed forward, Quincy tried to spark a comeback, but a lack of movement upfront left both the Ghanaian and the fans frustrated. A peach of a cross from McFadden was nearly met by Bent, but the striker, at full stretch, missed the ball, by a matter of inches.
It was from set pieces that Blues were at their most dangerous. Jaidi had a powerful header well saved by the keeper before a moment of controversy that will be consigned to history. A left wing corner from McFadden was met by Ridgewell who knocked the ball onto Queudrue, and the touch from the defender rolled agonisingly towards the goal. The Coventry keeper Westwood tried desperately to claw the ball back and it appeared that he had succeeded. He had fallen in a way which blocked the assistant`s view of the goal, and while it appeared for a split second that the referee was about to signal for the goal, he changed his mind and waved play on.
The players were furious. Quincy and Ridgewell surrounded the linesman but it was to no avail, the game went on, the goal did not stand.
Being truthful, Blues did not deserve anything from the game. Coventry did a fantastic job pressurising every Blues player as soon as the received the ball, and Blues did not have an answer to it. The play was not clinical, there was not enough movement up front, and it appeared to myself and those watching with me, that for the first time, Blues missed the presence of Garry O`Connor.
Reflecting on the game, there were good performances from Carsley, Ridgewell and Seb Larsson, who played his best game for a while. He chased, fought, and did everything for the cause - much more like the Seb that we know and admire. However the stand out performance once again came from Franck Queudrue. He was cool and calm when in possession and he played the game which his head screwed on, unlike some of his teammates. He has a touch of class which can only be matched by possibly McFadden. Quincy did cover himself with some glory after coming off the bench, but a lack of service to him meant that we didn`t really see Quincy as much as we should have.
It`s time to get serious.
If Blues want to be celebrating come May, they have to start scoring. For me, McLeish has to stop wasting time playing the likes of Jerome out of position, and he has to stop juggling his forward line. For me, for the Forest game, he has to restore McFadden and Jerome as the starting partnership, and Quincy has to be put back into the team.
It`s time for Blues to start scoring. No more ifs. No more buts. No more praising the strikers as the best collective strike force in the League. If the players really do believe it, then it`s time they start proving it.
Date:Wednesday November 5 2008
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The Last Time - Blues v Middlesbrough (Friday December 6 2013)
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