A blast from the past: Blues 3-2 Charlton
Funny thing, football.
On a day full of tension, memories of the past came flooding back as Blues returned to winning ways with a tight 3-2 victory over Charlton Athletic. As the game wore on, links to the past, and in particular the previous promotion winning team could be seen to those who looked hard enough.
With McLeish making two changes to his side, there was still bemusement at his decision to once again leave Quincy out of the starting line up. Phillips and Bent were the 'new` strike force and Franck Queudrue came back into the left hand side of the Blues defence, allowing Liam Ridgewell to return to his central defensive berth.
With the game in its infancy, it appeared as if some of the problems which have plagued Blues for much of the season were still a major issue. Charlton were allowed too much time on the ball and so they started the game on top with a spell of possession which did nothing to ease the nerves of the watching faithful. However Blues soon started to influence their style of play onto their opponents, with the ball being passed much more along the ground than in the air, Quashie soon went close and Bent had a shot blocked.
After a poor corner from Seb Larsson, James McFadden gathered the ball 20 yards out, dinked the ball over the oncoming defender, before taking a touch and then placing a beautiful shot into the keeper`s bottom right hand corner. It was a delightful goal which proved to be the incentive that McFadden needed to spark into life and have one of his best performances of the season. His piece of skill to defeat the onrushing defender has made sure that this goal will surely be a contender for Blues` goal of the season come May.
However, in typical Birmingham City fashion, we then self-destructed as Charlton got 2 goals in the space of 7 minutes.
First, a terrible free kick was wasted and Charlton broke away with pace and accuracy culminating in a tremendous finish by the on loan Bouazza. But this does not mask the fact that when they had a perfect chance to put the ball into the box, Blues tried to play pretty football instead of simply putting the ball into the box, and this cost them as the majority of the Blues defence were left stranded in the Charlton penalty area as the London team broke away.
Think that was bad? Worse was to come.
Ridgewell misjudged a high ball and allowed the Charlton striker to get beyond him and place a class finish beyond Maik Taylor.
This was then followed by an incident between Quashie and Lloyd Sam, where both players were guilty of inappropriate behaviour, and two red cards should have duly followed. However, strangely, the referee took a different view to many onlookers as he only issued yellow cards to the two players.
As half time arrived, boos once again rung round St Andrews as the crowd felt that they were once again witnessing a below par performance by Blues.
The second half started in much better fashion, with Blues desperately looking for a way back into the game. After Charlton inexplicably missed a perfect chance to seal the game, a howler from the Charlton goalkeeper Nicky Weaver meant that the next goal would go to Blues. After slipping while trying to collect a free kick, Weaver could only palm the ball to Phillips whose looping header got Blues back into the game.
Suddenly the morale levels of both the players and the fans went through the roof.
Blues pushed on with renewed vigour and a desire not seen often enough this season.
This brought back memories of the previous promotion season. The team were positive and attacking with a vociferous crowd behind them all the way.
Blues should have scored a third moments later when McFadden intercepted a back pass but over eagerness led to the ball running out of play. But Blues were not to be denied. After a dangerous ball into the box, Queudrue popped up to poke the ball home to give Blues a 3-2 lead which was deserved in terms of the second half performance.
Just when it looked like Blues would then go on and try to seal the game, disaster struck.
Quashie was given a second yellow card which seemed harsh, but possibly deserved after his outburst in the first half.
As Blues tried to hang on to their lead, the crowd put themselves firmly behind their team, filling the void left by the 11th man, who could only watch from the dressing room. Blues seemed to be a team with a new lease of life, and their attitude and work rate seemed very similar to that of the 06/07 team which was so successful.
Blues held on to seal a much needed win, ending their winless run while also keeping up with Wolves and Reading who both won away from home. Looking at the team, personally I was very impressed by McFadden, Bent and Quashie. All three had their best games of the season so far, but for differing reasons. McFadden seemed to be back to his skilful, threatening best, while Bent was a constant thorn in the side of the Charlton defence. While he had a very eventful 59 minutes, Quashie put in a good performance in which he did exactly what he was asked to. His performance may just have influenced McLeish`s thinking about whether he should be kept on at Blues once his one month loan deal ends.
While it was not vintage Blues, the second half performance was truly like a blast from the past. Similar to the 06/07 team, this team got their noses in front and then proceeded to make it hard for themselves by going down to 10 men.
It truly was a blast from the past, and if this current team can take anything away from the game, it is that impossible, is nothing. Just ask anyone who was witness to the miraculous comebacks seen during the previous promotion campaign. This team does have it in them to surpass their predecessors, they just need to believe.