Coming up against Newcastle at home in a game where three points were vital, was fairly scary. In all fairness, Blues started the game very brightly. Newcastle were in the game and there was always that threat but Zola’s team dealt with it well in the opening exchanges.
An early attempt in the sixth minute from Robert Tesche was just missed to the right and another Blues effort, by right back Emilio Nsue was also just wide. The Magpies had a spell of about ten minutes where they dominated and the boys in royal blue couldn’t keep the league leaders out. Good job goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was on hand to pick up the pieces left by the shaky back 3 of Robinson, Bielik and Shotton.
Most of the way through the first half it was all Newcastle, former Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie was all over the Blues defenders who couldn’t handle the class of Newcastle’s attempts.
Midfielder Jack Colback was the star player for the visitors in the first half, some way through the season he has been solid also. Every Birmingham attempt was either missed or blocked so the first half was pretty frustrating for the hosts, but Gianfranco Zola and his players knew it was going to be tough against top of the league.
Half time arose and it was 0-0, a good half in terms of the scoreline.
Blues again began the second 45 the better team with a few chances and it was time for Newcastle to be pressed a bit. For those ten minutes until they were up, Newcastle then dominated again. Considering the quality in Newcastle’s side, many of their attempts were missed. Blues hung on and their hearty performance was nearly rewarded with a Craig Gardner chance deep into the second half.
Final fifteen minutes and it was sluggish defending from Ryan Shotton which gave him a yellow card and gave Ritchie a good opportunity from a free kick to give Newcastle the lead but that was not to be.
A couple of subs for Birmingham. A return for Clayton Donaldson saw him replace Lukas Jutkiewitz and Gleeson replacing Gardner.
A slow end to the game, once those substitutions had took place I think everybody in the ground knew it was to be a point for both teams and in Blues’ case, that was seen as good!
For the away side, it was a point to keep them top of the league but only until the full-time whistle went at Elland road depending on how Brighton get on away at Leeds.
Small mercies though, a good draw to keep our heads above water for now… Next up, Brighton and Hove Albion away after the international break.
Team Lineups – Birmingham City:
CB; Robinson , CB; Shotton , CB; Bielik
RWB; Nsue , CM; Kieftenbeld , CM; Davis , CM; Tesche , LWB; Grounds
CAM; Gardner , ST; Jutkiewitz
8. Gleeson ()
9. Donaldson ()
RB; Anita , CB; Hanley , CB; Lascelles , LB; Dummett
RM; Ritchie , CM; Colback , CM; Diame , LM; Gouffran
27. Jesus Gamez
Shots – Blues; 9 , Newcastle; 17
Shots on target – Blues; 1 , Newcastle; 3
Corners – Blues; 3 , Newcastle; 5
Fouls – Blues; 18 , Newcastle; 8
Possession – Blues; 35.4% , Newcastle; 64.6%