Date:Monday February 16 2009
For the first time this season, Blues have produced a decent performance, and they have come away deserved victors.
In recent weeks since the Blackpool debacle, it has been clear that each week Blues have improved, and this was no different. For the first time, Blues played like they were a team.
With a terrible pitch underfoot, and thousands of empty seats all around, the team banished all negativity and came away with a crucial victory.
A pre-match huddle from the team was greeted with some scepticism from the watching fans but this was not only a chance to give some last minute inspiration, it was a chance to show the fans that the team were together. It was a chance to show that they were fighting for each other and for this club.
Both Fahey and Bent had come in for Bouazza and Jerome, as Blues looked to steal a march on Reading, who did not play this weekend. As the game began, Blues were put under pressure by Forest, and in particular the bright Nathan Tyson. Forest manager Billy Davies played a 4-5-1 with the idea that they could hit Blues on the counter attack, with Tyson being their main outlet.
Every time they won the ball, Forest players looked for Tyson to try and get him one-on-one with Seb Larsson who did look uncomfortable at right back. As the game went on, Larsson did well to fight for every ball against Tyson, as Blues readjusted to counter the threat of the forward.
Tyson came very close to putting Forest ahead in the opening 5 minutes, but the pitch came to Blues` rescue as the ball bobbled up onto the striker, taking him by surprise, meaning that his shot went very...very high and wide.
After their first chance of the game, which came courtesy of a Scott Sinclair shot which bobbled wide, Blues started to take control of the game. Super Kev came close to putting Blues ahead with a strike from a good 20 yards out, but keeper Smith did well to tip the shot around the post for a corner.
There are some advantages to playing Seb Larsson at right back; one is undoubtedly his supreme ability when it comes to putting a ball into the box. Seb and Scott Sinclair combined down the right side and Seb put a decent ball into the box for Lee Bowyer to run on to, but Bowyer`s connection with the ball was not the best and it went harmlessly wide.
However, by this stage, the crowd were waking up. They could see that the team were giving it their all in their bid to play football on a terrible surface.
The crowd were up, the team were creating chances...surely things were on the up now?! Not so, as Super Kev hobbled off the pitch after half an hour, to be replaced by Jerome. Now, you don`t ever want to see a Blues player injured, especially when it is your top scorer and the only player in your side who seems to know where the goal is.
Liam Ridgewell, who had a strong game, went close to scoring after a header from a Larsson free kick, but in all honesty, Ridge should have done better to put the ball either side of the keeper. But Ridge was not done there. A free kick from Seb Larsson brought a good save out of Smith before Ridgewell blasted over from close range.
In the second half, Blues looked to dominate their opponents, and that is exactly what they did do. Down the right side, Seb and Sinclair combined well to supply the crosses, while down the left, Murphy and Fahey combined expertly at times to create chances for the rest of the team.
It was just after the hour mark when Blues got the goal that they sorely craved. A fantastic cross into the box from Murphy fell at the feet of Bent who did well to get a shot in at the second attempt as he manoeuvred his body to sweep the ball into the net. While he was awarded the goal, it did look suspiciously like an own goal, but who cares? Blues took the 1-0 lead that they deserved and the confidence was flowing.
Forest failed to threaten our advantage and in the 75th minute, Keith Fahey scored one of the best goals you will ever see at St Andrews. Now, I don`t care if it was a cross, I don`t care if it was a shot, heck, I don`t even care if Fahey was playing the crossbar challenge.
Fahey started off the move by playing it into Cameron Jerome, who held it up expertly before laying it off to the Irishman who took a touch, looked up, and placed the ball into the top left corner of Smith`s goal.
It was a quite fantastic way to cap a strong, resurgent performance from the Blues. Costly came on for Bent, and Forest went close once again, but Blues held on to gain a 2-0 victory which was a fair result.
It was a good performance, possibly even our best over 90 minutes this season. There were many good performances from the likes of Ridge, Carsley, Sinclair and Fahey, there were two standout performances. These came courtesy of two players who have been much maligned by Bluenoses this season - David Murphy and Marcus Bent. While Bent was strong in holding up play while also providing a real goal threat, Murphy was simply outstanding.
He had his best game for Blues by a long way, and all this comes after his comments midweek. Murph said that we, as a club, had not seen the best of him yet, due to the circumstances he found himself in when he arrived. He said that being in a relegation battle meant that we couldn`t see the real Murphy who likes to attack down the wings; if the Murphy we saw yesterday is the real Murphy, then I will be delighted. His defending was strong, his positional sense was good, and his attacking was superb. With Fahey ahead of him, he knew that he had to be the one who would go out wide and whip balls into the box for the strikers. And that is exactly what he did. His crossing was spot on, and his cross for Bent`s goal was hit with pin point accuracy.
Now, after all of that, I have to say, please do not get too carried away.
It was a good performance, and probably our best to date, but, there is still a long way to go. We have gone back second which is fantastic, and we have closed the gap on Wolves with a game in hand which is fabulous. However, this was just one performance. We now have to make sure that we build on this performance, and carry on in our quest to join the elite.
Keep Right On, because it is days like yesterday that make all the despair, pain and disappointment worthwhile.
Date:Monday February 16 2009
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