Birmingham’s match against Forest Green Rovers had the vibe of a pre season match from the start, yet the Blues managed to obtain the much expected victory at the New Lawn’s mere 5,032 capacity. Gary Rowett’s trip to the Cotswolds was a worthwhile one, where he will have learnt a lot about his squad for the upcoming campaign. He utilised a total of 22 players during the course of the match, including a handful of youth team players.
Forest Green were clearly excited at the chance to play a championship side and started the game brightly with a fair amount of possession. Blues shortly regained some control with Maghoma and Arthur creating some forward momentum on the wings; the former driving to the byline and having an effort cleared off the line. The pressure began to tell as the boys in blue won a multitude of set pieces. Grounds would have scored from a corner had Maxted not got across his goal to make the save, however there was nothing he could do at the next corner from Maghoma, which after being flicked on by Tesche, left Morrison with an easy finish from a yard out.
A few heated challenges from Donaldson saw the Green Army’s Traore forced off the field due to an injury with Blues’ number 9 escaping a yellow card. The Rovers player was replaced by Darren Carter, providing the standing Blues fans with the chance to show their appreciation to the Birmingham legend, a big reason why the 386 bluenoses made the trip from the midlands. Some neat short passing then created an opportunity for Shinnie, however his first long range shot was parried back to him and his second attempt flew over.
7 changes were made at the break but Blues still had a very strong side on the pitch. Fabbrini looked a decent threat and had an effort roll past the post. Soon Rowett brought on 4 youngsters including the 18 year old striker Jack Storer who was extremely lively after his introduction. He combined well with Fabbrini creating another chance for the Italian, and then the roles were reversed and young Storer almost had his first senior goal, showing his finishing ability by striking past the Rovers keeper before turning to see the linesman’s flag had been raised for offside. Solomon-Otabor then did well on the flank providing a delightful cross for Storer to finally get his much deserved goal with a header into the top corner. Fabbrini then finished a confident Birmingham performance by making it 3 with a low finish into the corner.
It was a meaty performance from Birmingham unlike the food on offer at the ground due to Rovers’ owner’s vegetarian beliefs. The gaffer will be pleased with the Blues’ showing, especially the youngsters, and his focus is now onto next week where it seems the players will start to play 90 minutes as the squad splits into 2.
FT Forest Green Rovers 0 – 3 Birmingham
By Matt Wilson