A hard earned and deserved win for the Boys in Royal Blue against promotion-chasing Leeds after weeks and weeks of disappointment!
Jaques Maghoma was there again against Leeds to earn Steve Cotterill and his side a well earned and well needed three points. It wasn’t just the scoreline today it was the performance, honestly, I can say it was the best I have seen Birmingham City play this season.
Sam Gallagher was back in the fold for the Blues after one game out, after what must be said a ridiculous sending off at Sunderland last week. Before today he had scored 2 in 2 against Sunderland and prior to that, Queen’s Park Rangers. Harlee Dean was handed the captain’s armband, with Michael Morrison being dropped. Jaques Maghoma was awarded a sub appearance against QPR in blues’ last home game and because of poor performances from record signing Jota, he was rewarded with a start and sure did he make Cotterill’s decision pay off.
Birmingham started the game much the better side, very much in the ascendency. The centre-back partnership of Marc Roberts and Harlee Dean looked to have been paying dividends after heroic tackles from incoming Leeds attackers, but Leeds didn’t really get a look in, it was all Blues and they were the dominant side. Craig Gardner and Harlee Dean were bright lights in the home side in the first half, pumping balls and heading away danger by Dean and clever passes through the middle by Gardner was the link. Gallagher was winning everything in the air and the runners out wide were doing their job as they should be; everything was going well for Birmingham.
Leeds did not offer much going forward, a couple of chances here and there but that was quickly parted out by keeper Stockdale and the defenders depending on the type of chance. Maxime Colin was playing as good as he ever had and David Davis was back to his usual self and that was it, blues had Leeds where they wanted them. There weren’t any clear-cut chances from Blues, they built pressure by how their midfield ticked and from set pieces especially corners, but apart from that nothing setting stone happened or was key in the first 45 – Blues were in control and looked like a totally different team.
In the second half, Leeds made a substitute which saw Pontus Jannson making his way on at the heart of defence to try and deal with Sam Gallagher, who was running ragged for Birmingham winning everything in the air. There was no attacking threat for the visitors, Saiz was on the bench warming up on the sidelines, the away fans were certainly waiting for him to make an appearance; Lassoga was also left out so that was a key factor in why Leeds were not offering anything up top. Jermaine Boga was fast and forward for the home team, he took it past three United players in the build-up to a good Gallagher chance. Maghoma was also hurting Leeds with his skills, taking the ball around Leeds men, but the visitors did not lose their fight and dug deep to claw their way back in with a couple of key chances breaking away off the counter.
The game went quiet and blues dipped off and it was time for Thomas Christiansen’s men to take a bit of control. Luke Ayling’s darting runs down the right-hand side took Boga off his pedastool. Saiz made his mark on the game when he came on, also making special runs and had a chance which was terrifically saved by former Brighton keeper David Stockdale to keep the home team in the game to save them from going behind once again. Instead, Birmingham brought on Jota for Boga and this was the change needed for the Spaniard to inspire Cotterill’s boys to a big three points. An in-swinging snapshot to give Maghoma the chance to win it and didn’t he take it well… A tapped shot leathered into the top of the net to send St. Andrews into total delirium.
A fifth win of the season for Blues and one well fought out and well-deserved wins for Sunderland and Bolton also, but now just two points from safety, Blues can stay in the championship if they play like that all season long; let’s just hope they keep it that way!
RB: Colin , CB: Roberts , CB: Dean (C) , LB: Grounds
RCM: Davis , CM: Kieftenbeld , LCM: Gardner
RW: Maghoma , CF: Gallagher , LW: Boga
RB: Ayling , CB: Jannson , CB: Cooper , LB: Berardi (C)
RCDM: Shaughnessy , LCDM: Phillips
RW: Alioski , CAM Hernandez , LW: Cibicki
Possession – Blues: 52% , Leeds: 48%
Shots – Blues: 12 , Leeds: 9
Shots on target – Blues: 3 , Leeds: 2
Corners – Blues: 8 , Leeds: 3
Fouls – Blues: 12 , Leeds: 12
Yellow cards – Blues: 1 , Leeds: 2