Birmingham City 1 (Adams 29)
Leeds United 0
It is infuriating when we see Leeds play like they did at St Andrews today; we know we can play so much better than that but it’s not the first time we’ve seen it this season. In amongst the rip-roaring victories in which we’ve moved the ball all over the pitch at speed and scored beautiful goals we’ve had a few like this one; flat, stodgy, not fluent at all and somehow lacking in energy and invention.
When Pablo isn’t at his mercurial best we do tend to struggle and today was one such day but it is hard to criticise Pablo when he has been such a top player for us all season. As always, we dominated the possession of the ball to the tune of 73% to 27% but the home side forged 10 attempts to our nine which seems a much better use of the ball. Of those 10 attempts the Blues hit the target an impressive 7 times and we have Kiko Casilla to thank for some solid if not spectacular goalkeeping. For our part we managed to hit the target just once all day; a flicked near post header from Patrick Bamford that Lee Camp pushed over the bar. The other 8 attempts are harder to recall but Patrick Bamford had a couple – stretching to get a toe on a cross that he diverted past the keeper but onto the post and snatching at a low cross ball and putting it over the bar. Readers of this blog will know I am far from Bamford’s most ardent fan but it pains me to see him struggle to find his scoring touch – the one thing that, on his day he does well. Sadly he’s not had such a day for a few weeks now!
Even when we turned to the bench today, the players coming on didn’t have any more spark than those they replaced; I’m not sure whether Jack Clarke just didn’t get enough ball or whether he was as subdued as the rest but he was not the player we got used to seeing light up the game every time he stepped onto the pitch prior to his Middlesbrough illness. Stuart Dallas is acknowledged as a workhorse more than a show pony and he did well enough when he replaced a very anonymous Jack Harrison at half time and then it is hard to knock Kemar Roofe as he only had 20 minutes at the end after his recent lay-off in place of the mis-firing Bamford. It is at times like this that I lament the lack of a Samu Saiz to shake things up… but that train has long since left.
So, terrible, flat performance today and we played right into the hands of a very one dimensional Gary Monk team; we gave them a sniff and they punished us clinically and then they defended for their lives and because we were so flat we couldn’t open them up. Maybe if we had a Che Adams or a Maghoma or a Jutkiewicz we could have found the target with at least one of those 9 attempts we fashioned but we didn’t, we had Patrick Bamford.
Once again the pendulum has swung towards the Blades after they pulled off a good looking 0 – 1 win at Deepdale today and we can but hope that Birmingham can now do us a favour by performing the same trick as we saw today when Sheffield United visit St Andrews on Wednesday. For our part, we have to find our sparkle quickly as we go to Deepdale ourselves on Tuesday to face Preston. Funnily enough I'm more confident of us finding our form up there than I was of us getting much from the Blues; Preston are a more attacking side who’s style I feel will suit us better. But, let’s be under no illusion, Preston are a decent side and they probably need to beat Leeds to keep alive their feint hopes of a play-off spot so anything less than our best and we could be staring at the play-offs and not automatic promotion come Wednesday night.
Birmingham City Leeds Utd
Possession 27% 73%
Shots 10 9
On Target 7 1
Corners 4 8
Fouls 11 13