Date:Monday March 23 2009
Let off the hook - again. Blues failed to impress against a Norwich side who were fighting for their lives and in the end Blues could count themselves lucky to come away with a point. They say that luck can only get you so far before it eventually runs out, but they don`t seem to know that at St Andrews. After Cameron Jerome gave them an undeserved, lucky half time lead, the disappointed news of a draw at home was aided by the fact that Reading themselves could only draw in their game.
The sun was out and there was a mood of expectation surrounding St Andrews, but as it has on so many occasions this year, things started disastrously for Blues. There was less than a minute on the clock when Norwich had the ball in the back of the net, but luckily for Blues, the attempt was ruled out for offside. However, Blues did not learn from their mistakes. Norwich continued to push and had another couple of half decent chances before Blues finally started to get going, albeit tentatively.
A Bouazza free kick just avoided Garry O`Connor but Norwich continued to press and Blues looked shaky at the back. Alan Gow sent a ball across the six yard area but luckily for Blues, there was no-one in the canary yellow anywhere near it. A tame Hameur Bouazza header was the closest Blues had come to scoring before a high ball into the box from Bouazza caused havoc in the Norwich defence. Jerome jumped with the keeper Marshall and it was under pressure that the keeper dropped the ball for Jerome to tap home and give Blues the lead.
However, it was just into stoppage time when the game was set alight. Gary Doherty was given just a yellow for elbowing Franck Queudrue, but the Frenchman went absolutely mental. It took the combined efforts of Sebastian Larsson and Maik Taylor to hold him back and stop him from lunging on Doherty.
It was at the start of the second half that a Norwich free kick from Sammy Clingan flew over the wall and into the goal to make the score 1-1. Taylor was left with no chance as the kick seemed to go through the wall.
Sinclair came on for Bouazza but nothing much changed. Blues had improved since the poor first half showing but the game was open and both teams had chances. On 70 minutes, Super Kev made his long awaited comeback and Blues picked up as a result. Ridgewell had a good chance but his header went well wide of Marshall`s goal. Super Kev had a chance to claim all the headlines for himself, but even though he did all he could with it, it was easy for Marshall to push it over and out for a corner.
All in all, it was not a good performance from Blues. They came up against a Norwich team who were determined to fight for every ball, and Blues seemed to be lacking somewhat when it came to the crunch. Granted, the second half performance brought a marked improvement, but Blues did not do enough to take all three points.
Personally, I would say that there were standout performances from Franck Queudrue, Sebastian Larsson and the mercurial Cameron Jerome. Seb Larsson was on good form with his distribution and ball control, while Franck Queudrue was...what Franck Queudrue is. He displayed all the passion of a fan when he was elbowed by Doherty and he really is a fan favourite at St Andrews. If he was 5 years younger, Blues would be in heaven. Up front, Jerome was strong. He and O`Connor lacked service but when he did get the ball, he was a threat to the Norwich defence and in particular Gary Doherty.
O`Connor tried his hardest for 60 odd minutes but it was clear that he hasn`t played in a while. He needs time and match practice before he gets back to his early-October form, but here`s to hoping he can get there sooner rather than later. In comparison, it appeared as if Super Kev had never been away. He was bright, energetic and brought a touch of class to the side. In roughly 20 minutes, he showed Blues what they had missed without him in the side.
Blues used a lot of luck yesterday, but let`s hope that they can restock in time for the crucial...crucial game against Wolves in 2 weeks time.
Date:Monday March 23 2009
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