A tasty midlands derby to start the week for fans of the championship, Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Blues struggling down at the bottom end of the league whereas Wolves on the other hand are flying in top spot with their new manager Nuno Esporito Santo and their new look side.
A win for Blues would not only give the fans the bragging rights over Wolves, it would give the teams below a chance to knock them off poll position. An unchanged side to the one which picked up a point away at Sheffield United last time out, and for Wolves the only difference saw Ruben Neves out under a suspension and Romain Saiss coming in.
Steve Cotterill knew taking on the job as Blues manager from Harry Redknapp would be a challenge to get the team back on its feet, but I don’t think he knew just what he had encountered because it’s been non stop defeats really apart from the one victory against Nottingham Forest back a few games ago.
In the opening exchanges it was clear to see the visitors from top of the league were dominating play, winger Ivan Caveliro was a bright light in Nuno’s side peppering shots at David Stockdale and from a double save from the former Brighton goalkeeper, it was Leo Bonantini who pounded to strike it over the line. It didn’t go all the way over the line, but the technology awarded Wolves the goal to put them in the lead.
From then on, in the first half wolves could easily have been three up with another couple of attempts on goal by Caveliro, but good stops from Stockdale kept the hosts in the game. Marc Roberts risked his neck with a challenge on Diogo Jota during the first half, a late challenge coming in on the back of him but getting away with a yellow card to the displeasure of the away bench.
No shots on target at half time for Blues was somewhat of a given seeing how blues have been playing recently. Nuno will have been pleased with his sides performance in the first 45, a lot of words to be said to the down set of Blues players by Cotterill.
In the second period, the words of Steve Cotterill must have worked wonders because Blues came out looking much the better side in their new look 3-4-3 formation. Emilio Nsue was pacing down the right hand side and Stephen Gleeson, when substituted on for Jota, performed surprisingly well passing into good space for the boys in royal blue.
Cheick N’doye, in some fan’s words, looked a lost cause and I can’t disagree from a reporting perspective because every ball he won he went on to give away and it was just not falling very well for the home team, however fortunately Wolves weren’t clinical on the night.
Blues had chances when Che Adams came on and also when Jermaine Boga grew into the game. Tempers flew again when Gleeson and Alfred N’diaye had a coming together with Maikel Kieftenbeld getting involved and almost taking a headbutt. In cohesion with the booking of Roberts, N’diaye was shown a yellow card and it looked as if Simon Hooper controlled the match quite well and was very lenient. However, when Birmingham defender Harlee Dean tried to play peacemaker in another incident, he was shown a second yellow and a red for throwing Diogo Jota to the floor and in the eyes of the footballing law you cannot do that.
Birmingham were down and out at this point and wolves were making substitution after substitution to slow the clock down and they were happy to cling on. A good effort from Blues but they just fell short of the league leaders in a game they nearly matched if they had a few more shots on goal.
Cotterill’s men will need to pick themselves back up and go again against Fulham in London on Saturday, in a game which is now, a must win.
RCB Roberts , CB Morrison (C) , LCB Dean
RWB Nsue , CM Kieftenbeld , CM N’doye , LWB Grounds
RW Jota , CF Jutkiewitz , LW Boga
RCB Bennett , CB Boly , LCB Coady
RWB Doherty , CM Saiss , CM N’diaye , LWB Douglas
RW Cavilero , CF Bonantini , LW Jota Silva
Possession – Blues 44% , Wolves 56%
Shots – Blues 6 , Wolves 9
Shots on target – Blues 0 , Wolves 5
Corners – Blues 3 , Wolves 1
Fouls – Blues 13 , Wolves 8
Yellow cards – Blues 4 , Wolves 2
Red Cards – Blues 1 , Wolves 0