After three straight wins with no goals conceded, things were certainly looking up for Birmingham City, but they faced a Derby team on Saturday who sat just a point off the automatic places in the league coming here with a great record so far.
Gary Rowett has just penned a new deal with County too, so he’d be hoping for three points to start that off.
Still no Che Adams, he was on the bench, but was likely to make an appearance at some point. Jota also was on the bench, so Cotterill went with an unchanged side with Maghoma, Boga and Gallagher in the attack.
Blues tend to play much better against the teams higher in the league than them, especially teams in the top 6 and started this match off pretty well, Gardner picked up the form of recent games, Maghoma was running at Derby well and Gallagher was winning absolutely everything in the air, Rowett knew he was in for a good game. But Cotterill forgot one major piece of homework on Rowett’s style of football, you attack him and he’ll attack you back and every time Blues tried that, with flair players such as Russell, Vydra and Lawrence, it did not end well as just after the quarter hour mark Russell ran in to put the rams in the lead and concede blues’ first goal of 2018. Derby capitalised on this so much and sort of halted Blues’ play.
Soon after the second half begun, it was like watching Birmingham a few weeks ago, not knowing where to pass the ball and hesitating each time they were attacking, it was not a case of Blues being very poor, it was the fact that Derby had the quality in their side that Blues just didn’t, which won them the game.
Just eleven minutes after the referee blew for the second 45 to start, Matej Vydra was sent through by an excellent looped through ball to slot home past Stockdale for two right in front of the travelling fans, that was the end of Blues and that was the three points. Rowett did not spare any emotion what so ever for Blues and celebrated like he had just won the league!
Cotterill then thought to make a substitution and bought on Che Adams, who has missed a fair few matches. He came on to bolster Birmingham’s attacking threat, replacing David Davis. Soon after that, Blues were awarded two successive corners but couldn’t convert from either of them, that was where Blues looked the best in the second half when it wasn’t total Derby domination. Rowett bought on his second sub, with former Leicester striker David Nugent coming on and as soon as he did, it was beginning to get embarrassing for Blues as he helped Lawrence square the ball late on to Sam Winnall as he tapped home for three and that was game, set & match.
A disappointing loss for Birmingham but it showed how far both teams have come under both Cotterill and Rowett, Derby look set for automatic promotion, if they can continue with this form and Blues look set hopefully to carrying on their fight against relegation, if they play like that against teams around them they’ll definitely pick up points, in this game Derby just had the cutting edge, class in the side that Blues lacked.
RB Colin , CB Roberts , CB Dean , LB Grounds
RCM Davis , CM Kieftenbeld , LCM Gardner
RW Boga , CF Gallagher , LW Maghoma
RB Wisdom , CB Keogh , CB Davies , LB Forsyth
CDM Thorne , CDM Huddlestone
RW Lawrence , CAM Vydra , LW Russell
Possession: Blues 52% , Derby 48%
Shots: Blues 14 , Derby 12
Shots on target: Blues 2 , Derby 7
Corners: Blues 6 , Derby 4
Fouls made: Blues 7 , Derby 13