Sheffield Wednesday 4 - 1 Blues
Saturday, 15 March 15:00
Birmingham City were sent home bruised and battered by Sheffield Wednesday this week in an emphatic 4-1 defeat at Hillsborough. The Blues have just 9 wins from 36 games after today; despite having high hopes of all 3 points in this game.
Many players have come in for criticism from the fans after today`s performance, Shinnie, lee and Blackett in particular disappointed as Blues were helpless to a defeat that sits them 19th in the division.
Teams around Birmingham did not manage a win, Blackpool lost to Leicester whilst Doncaster managed a respectable draw away at Forest.
The midlands side also finished the game with ten men after losing Emyr Huws to a knock late on in the game. The other injury worry is to captain Paul Robinson who took a hit to the head in the first half before making it to the break and being replaced by Aaron Martin.
Many fans on Twitter were disappointed to see no place in the starting line-up for Macheda after his brace against Burnley. The starting line-up was actually unchanged, which I also found alarming, the team were not defensively competent against Burnley and the finishing eleven against Burnley possibly should have been given the nod.
Wednesday starting the far brighter, a run from Hutchinson and a decent 25 yard free-kick from Maguire. Caolan Lavery then scored just 16 minutes in, he cuts in from the right-hand side easily and tucked the shot low and past Randolph. Poor defending from the young left-back and it wasn`t long before Caddis was brought on for him (Spector moved to left-back, which to me was also ridiculous).
Maguire involved again, he whipped in a corner from the right and Lavery`s flick found Best for a tap in. Disorganised from Birmingham, no one alert to their man or at least the ball.
Huws corner midway through the half almost found the net from Spector at the back post.
Play was held up for a while after Robinson and Lavery both collided leaving the Blues skipper with a head injury. Robinson made it to half time before being replaced.
Half time couldn`t come quick enough; Blues were slow, flat and unable to contest the game with Wednesday.
It wasn`t long before Lee was taken off for Macheda on 55 minutes, Lee Clark using his last substitution to get back into the game. Two tactical substitutions in the game and one forced by injury.
It went from bad to worse at the back, Packwood deflected a low cross past Randolph for the third soft goal of the game. 4 minutes later Shinnie misses from just 6 yards, missing the opportunity to grab anything for Blues.
Lavery then finishes from 25 yards, no block on the short or chance for Randolph. A deflated Birmingham side finished off by a team no better than them with respect to ability.
Lee Novak, a player Blues fans are becoming to rely on, came up with some pride for the team. Birmingham move the ball down the right, find Macheda to flick on and it`s Novak who finished from close range. Evidence that had Blues got it right tactically today they could have more than competed against Wednesday.
Birmingham had 41% of the ball, but it did not even feel that generous, there was no control or tempo to the team. Olly Lee could not handle that holding role alongside a far superior Huws. Robinson, for me, isn`t good enough to be in the middle of that defence and Blackett is yet to impress me for his defensive work. Also Spector over to left-back was just silly today; he is in no way shape or form a left back.
It was there I think Blues failed to assert themselves in the game, never mind even talking about getting Macheda on the field. Blues sat with a 4-2-3-1, presumably to keep it tight in the middle and still provide some width from Burke and Shinnie, for me it just wasn`t there. To provide that width we can`t effectively have 5 players sat in midfield the way Clark sets them out, when 3 are there to go push forward and leave a large section of space to be exploited possession wise.
It could also be said that Novak isn`t the kind of player you would play upfront on his own, he`s a runner not a holder, and I do not see how you can call him an advanced striker (whereas he would be holding play up and running in behind based on the sequence of play).
Overall thoughts, Blues could have been in this game, it was there at the start of the game but there was no quality final ball and no getting hold of possession. Wednesday fought for it and Blues did not.