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Thread: Birmingham 1 United 1 - report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Birmingham 1 United 1 - report

    United’s promotion bid took a blow when they were held to a draw at St Andrews on Wednesday evening. The Blades were far from their best but led thanks to a powerful Enda Stevens strike but Michael Morrison levelled soon after with a scrappy goal. After this Dean Henderson was the busier keeper as Birmingham looked more likely for a period before United came on late at the end and tried to force a winner, to no avail.

    United were still without Jack O’Connell and brought in Martin Cranie replacing Kieran Dowell and Enda Stevens switched to his familiar left wing back role. Gary Madine was back on the bench after suspension. Birmingham also had a key man missing with Maikel Kieftenbeld out for nine months with knee ligament damage. David Davis came in. Jota was still on the bench who started with free scoring former Blade Adams up top.

    For the first five minutes United had all the possession and moved it about well and were looking comfortable on the ball without creating much. Baldock won an early set play but the free kick saw Sharp caught offside. Stevens, Fleck and Duffy combined and Stevens was in but opted not to shoot and his cross fell to Sharp who could only hook it over McGoldrick. United continued to push Birmingham back and McGoldrick was influential coming deep to receive the ball.

    Stevens burst forward and his cross evaded everyone and then Norwood hit a superb cross field ball as United continued to control things without testing the keeper. Sharp held the ball up but lacked support.

    Birmingham slowly came into the game and Adams started to hold the ball up well; from a half chance after Duffy gave it away, the ball was whipped over from Gardner it hit Cranie and Henderson had to scurry backwards to make a last ditch save. In doing so he hurt his elbow but was able to carry on after treatment.

    Cranie made a good interception as United started to give the ball away. Norwood then could not clear and Dean sliced over. Davis was harshly booked for a foul on Norwood as the game started to become scrappy.

    Duffy has been poor so far but got on the ball and edged it forward and invited the challenge and this led to STEVENS getting away and he took a touch before hitting a fierce shot that flew in past Camp who got a hand on it but could not keep it out.

    The lead only lasted four minutes though. An innocuous cross came over to the far post and Baldock opted to go safety first. It led to a corner which Birmingham scored the leveller from. The corner saw Basham lose his man and Gardner headed goal wards. A combination of Norwood and Henderson blocked it but MORRSION hooked it into the far corner of the unguarded net.
    After this Birmingham pressed and won another two corners and McGoldrick had to head the final one clear before the half time whistle came.

    The second half saw Sharp caught offside twice in close succession and United began the second half as they ended the first; with poor play on the ball and too far off the Birmingham players in possession. Duffy ran into trouble and from the deep cross from Pederson, Jutkiewicz headed wide.

    Norwood gave the ball away soon after and Egan had to step in to win it before a rare United break out, Stevens got checked for a free kick as Gardner fouled him. A chance came for United from the free kick when Norwood’s drilled effort as turned goal wards but Jutkiewicz got his toe to it before McGoldrick and Camp had to be smart to keep out a possible own goal.

    The next period saw little happen in the way of chances although Adams was continued to cause problems with his running and strength. Changes came for both sides as Dowell and Madine came on for Cranie and Duffy as McGoldrick dropped deeper and Dowell went to left wing back and Stevens tucking inside. Jota came on for Mahoney as Monk tried to counter Wilder’s move.

    The sub had an immediate impact as he beat Fleck to it and sent Adams through who hit a dipping first time effort that Henderson did brilliantly to tip away. Soon after this, Birmingham had another chance as Stevens lost it and Jota came inside and hit a low shot that Henderson saved at the near post.

    United had been poor second half but Norwood had an effort driven wide before Basham’s cross was flicked away from McGoldrick but off target. Adams was playing on the last man and twice United had to be alert to see things out. At the other end, United won a corner as Basham tried to head back across goal from Stevens cross. Then from a poor Camp clearance, Norwood tried to knock it back. Slowly United started to have a spell in the game but often they were undone by poor passing when it mattered. Sharp nearly got in on a through ball but the defender did well. Fleck then drove goal wards but it was cleared.

    Craig Gardner came on to join his brother for Davis as the game entered the final **** minutes of the game. Adams then nearly got in as Egan was struggling with his constant energy. United were now throwing men forward and they won a corner as the game entered the final minute but McGoldrick headed just over as the United fans held their breath behind the goal. The game went into three minutes of stoppage time and United were not really going for it and won another late corner after good work from Madine but Egan’s header was comfortable for Camp. The final whistle went not long after this and it was a point for both sides which probably helps Birmingham more than United.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    United – I have to say I was quite disappointed with us tonight. I felt we were poor at Preston in the first half but improved hugely after this and deserved to edge it. I thought we would kick on tonight and the first 10 minutes tonight we kept it well without doing much but I felt we looked a good side and confident one. Slowly we started to give it away and then it became scrappy for a period and they had a few half chances. We then scored out of nowhere really but tossed it away with a poor goal. Some will blame Baldock, some will blame Basham, some will blame Henderson or Norwood for failing to deal with it and a number of players for not reacting to the ball after this. The reality is nobody imposed themselves with it be a call on the first ball to give Baldock some time (for what its worth I felt as a defender he did the right thing as he did not know what was behind him) and then the goal saw us lose the key battles and second and third ball really. We just did not react really.

    After this this kind of knocked the stuffing out of us. They looked the more likely the second half and Adams and Jota had opportunities and they looked more dangerous. We never got going and we had so many players who normally play well who simply did not with Duffy, Sharp, Fleck and others all making poor decisions or not winning their individual battles. We just looked a bit tired. When we got into the last third, I felt we panicked with poor crosses from lots of players and we did not show any composure outside of McGoldrick. I felt the last 5 minutes we started to have a go and pushed men forward and suddenly had some half chances with a few efforts from corners or blocks made. To me we left it too late. Sure, a point is a point but we needed to go on and impose ourselves. They may have beat Leeds but they were no great shakes tonight and if we had raised the tempo or a few players up their game, I think we go on and win the game even after being pegged back but it never happened really. It was almost like we looked a bit scared to be beat and lose and really commit ourselves.

    Overall, a touch of disappointment but we are still in it and things can turn again at the weekend. We need a favour from our rivals but we need to get back to the football and performances we have not seen for a few games now. We need to get our swagger back. Hopefully O’Connell will be back. I would start Madine and Sharp up top with McGoldrick just off them against a big physical Millwall team. Duffy has been really poor the last two games – yes he made the goal but he gave it away constantly outside of this. Sharp also has been off his game the last two games and needs to up his levels after of course a fantastic season. The defence was ok tonight save for Adams getting away a few times and the set play but I just want to see a more fluent footballing performance. I felt we gave it away under little pressure a lot and was not as if they pressed us all over the field. We seemed to go route one too often and not play through the lines. Yes, they sat back and were deep but then you have to trust the football. We seem to have lost the confidence to get through teams playing this way.

    It will only be seen at the end of the season if it is a good point but now Leeds with two home games to come (same as us of course) will really go for it. On paper they do have slightly harder fixtures. Ironically, I feel if we can win the next two (even if Leeds do) we can still do it but I am worried about Saturday – Millwall always come and scrap and we need a few players to wake from the slumber they showed tonight. Either they were tired and lacked energy or just off their game but one or two did not seize the moment. They have five games to go but if we need to go up, we need better performances than tonight.

    Still for all the kind of down beat thoughts, we are third place, a point behind with 5 to go (3 are at home) and we need to keep the faith. I hope we will get back to form the next two games and really go for it. Now is not the time for caution really; especially at home. We need to attack teams pen them back again.

    Birmingham – They played quite defensively for a home team and sat back a lot but then still had more efforts on goal than us and maybe shaded the 2nd half until we had a go at the end. I felt they ceded possession a lot early on and we looked far better but then slowly they started to turn things around. They pushed us back and we gave it away quite a bit. Then we scored and as Wilder said, I thought if we got to half time they would have to come out and change things. Second half they got behind us a bit but were reliant heavily on Adams who caused all the problems.

    He was a real threat and played well and looked a much more mature player than the one we saw at the Lane. He played unselfishly and worked hard. Outside of him, Jota did ok but they were more workmanlike than anything else and not sure any other players stood out. They defended in numbers when they had to and got men very far back whenever we had it. They made sure when Norwood had it, they had all 11 behind the ball which meant it was hard for us too penetrate. They would have probably expected us to come out and push them back 2nd half but it did not happen until maybe the 80th minute when we had more of the ball and some half chances. They deserved the point for the efforts on goal and showing as much quality in the final third as us. Monk has done a good job there and if you take away the points deduction, they would not have been far off the play offs (Redknapp’s fault and the board for ridiculous overspending). They don’t have lots of talent but are a hardworking, honest group. They will lose Adams in the summer and he will be tough to replace but they have enough to be around the middle of the league again next season.

    Opponent man of the match – Adams. They gave it Morrison who scored but Adams was the main threat, running across the front line, holding it up and looking a threat. I felt Jota also played well when he came on and it was odd, he did not start. The two centre backs were solid and kept Sharp quiet.

    Weak link – Not sure anyone was awful. The lad in midfield Davis looked a bit of a clogger and I felt Colin and Pederson we did not get at, two fairly immobile and slow defenders. I also thought Maghoma was poor – he normally has good games against us.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Henderson 7.5/10 – Made three good saves; one in the first half after the deflection. The one from Adams was very good and then he did well to get down to the Jota one. The goal maybe he could have done a bit better as he pushed it back into the box but then you expect your defence to react better. Not sure he could have held it going down low. Outside of this he was fine and played quite well.

    Baldock 6.5/10 – Not sure he got forward much at all outside of the first 10 minutes and ended up more of a regular right back. He was ok defensively against a decent winger in Maghoma but I felt on the ball at times he was a bit cautious.

    Stevens 7/10 – Scored a tremendous goal and got forward well early on. He actually could have shot when well placed from a closer in one than the shot he scored from. Great shot and maybe should shoot more often if he can show that power. After this he was actually a bit sloppy on the ball and he gave it away a bit but had one good run second half. Ended up at wide centre back to end the game.

    Egan 6.5/10 – Thought Adams gave him a tough game. It was odd he ended up marking him and Jutkiewicz peeled off to others. I would have thought Cranie being a bit more mobile may mark Adams but it did not work out like that. Adams got away from him a few times and he was outmuscled a few times. He did win a few headers and clearances and stepped out a few times.

    Cranie 7/10 – He was fine. Nearly conceded an unlucky own goal but got some blocks and interceptions in and ‘old manned’ it a few times in terms of blocking people off. Actually, should have been booked for one of them! He never seems to let us down. He only went off as we were looking to get more men forward.

    Basham 6.5/10 – Sliced a few out early on in the game but started to use it better for a spell. Lost his man on the corner or was certainly close enough to do more. In the second half he was ok defensively and got forward towards the end but his crossing and final ball for the most part was poor save for one McGoldrick flicked on.

    Fleck 5/10 – Thought he was pretty anonymous all night. Felt we needed someone who could drive forward and get on the ball and make us tick. He never did and not only that but did not put a tackle in all night. His final ball was awful when he had it and he sent 3 crosses behind the goal. Had one run and shot blocked but other than that not sure I can recall much he did right all night. Just never in the game.

    Norwood 6/10 – Started the game well with some crossfield balls that showed his class and he got on it; but then he started to get sloppy too and he had two clearances (one when Colin shot over) and then on the goal maybe he needs to give a shout and clear. Second half not sure he got on the ball and after him and Fleck dominated the second half at Preston, the same did not happen today. His set plays were not great either save for the one we nearly got the own goal from.

    Duffy 5/10 – See Fleck. He did make the goal with an assist but outside of this I felt he was really poor. He lost it time and time again. He was not helping recover possession like he did at Preston and whilst I am glad Wilder kept him on as he showed he can make a goal just from one moment but second half he got even worse and they nearly got through us twice after he gave it away. He was subbed just after he gave it away again. He needs to improve massively for me after two poor games.

    Sharp 5.5/10 – He has not been at his best the last two games and after missing chances on Saturday, he did not have any tonight or the half chances he had, he took too long to turn or get his shot away. He tried to work hard but was offside and I felt the only threat we had attacking wise was from Didsy. Looked tired tonight and frustrated and things were not sticking with him.

    McGoldrick 7.5/10 – Our best player comfortably tonight. He came off the ball and had to as Duffy was not having any impact on the game. The lack of service meant he had to come deep. Just looked composed on the ball and the only bit of class we had. Our main source of us creating things. Had a decent chance at the end but would have done well to get that in on target.

    Subs –

    Dowell – Came on and actually did ok. They put Jota on and he caused a few problems running from deep but he came off Dowell to do this. He actually was able to get forward and despite a few telegraphed balls but a few crosses in and at least helped us push them further down the pitch.

    Madine – Held it up a few times and a few others it came off him. He did win most headers but it was from deep positions. It was all a bit desperate at the end and he did link a little bit but not sure he got any chances or made anything but that was more due to the play coming into him.

    Wilder 6.5/10 – Cranie playing seemed the right thing to do. I think that a few looked tired and he made the changes but not sure they improved things much either. I suppose we had more of a forward-thinking approach with Dowell left and then Madine up top with McGoldrick off the front two. We at least forced them back a little bit and had a bit of a go at the end but I did feel that this came too late. I think he will have been a bit disappointed with the lack of tempo and that we did not win those key battles and it was just all a bit wait and see. We need to seize the initiative more in games and force teams back more.

    Referee – Darren Bond. He was fine actually. The booking for Davis was harsh but the commentators all forget he had been warned once. It was still soft. Cranie and Egan maybe should have been booked for us if Davis was yellow carded. Pedersen was booked for hauling Sharp down on the wing which seemed more routine. Other than this, there were not many tackles of note at all and he let the game flow when he could. The assistants got a few offsides wrong for both sides and also when you take a foul throw and it enters the field; why do you get to have another go?

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