Birmingham City were going into this one in good form under Garry Monk with two back to back home wins and one away win. The first home win against Hull and the other against Ipswich, the away win against survival rivals Bolton. His side knew a win today could more or less relegate their opponents Burton Albion, but also make big strides in achieving survival themselves.
Burton came to St Andrews knowing they needed nothing but three points if they were to have any chance of getting out of the relegation zone. One change from the side that beat Bolton in midweek, Jeremie Boga was thrown into the team in replacement of suspended Che Adams, who was shown a straight red card at the Macron Stadium last Tuesday. There was a delay in the match in the opening couple of minutes when Mikael Kieftenbeld was down injured. Boga had an early shot saved, straight down the throat of the visiting goalkeeper. Jaques Maghoma who is many fans tip as Blues’ player of the year was straight on the attack as Blues went for an early goal and nearly got one, but the linesman made sure that wasn’t to be. A through ball to Jutkiewitcz was called offside. It was that man Jutkiewitz who then tried his own luck with a shot but that was also saved. Seemed to be a bit more than half chances for the boys in royal blue, but Bywater was keeping Championship strugglers in it.
Lukas Jutkiewitcz has really come on leaps and bounds since the appointment of Garry Monk and this showed as he had another great chance saved, it was total Birmingham domination. Mid way through the first half Burton created a slight chance, which came to nothing. Damien McCrory injured meaning Lucas Akins replaced him. Jacob Davenport then had Burton’s second shot of the game but this one was missed. Three Birmingham chances would then follow, two by Jota and one from David Davis; as the frustrated Blues camp still couldn’t find a way past Bywater in the Albion goal. These also followed a disallowed Boga goal, who certainly looked onside.
Heading into half time it was still all Blues, one half chance from Lloyd Dyer but most of the shots were going Bywater’s way although he did a brilliant job each time of keeping the likes of Jota, Jutkiewitz, Boga, Maghoma and Davis out. At the interval, Birmingham could not have done much more. Burton’s persistence in defence was paying off and Stephen Bywater in goal was performing magnificently.
As the 22 players emerged for the second half, the Blues faithful knew it would take a big game breaker to shut the championships bottom club out. As Birmingham thought they were in the ascendancy because of the amount of chances they had in the first half, all it took for Burton Albion was one opportunity from their star man and former Birmingham loanee Lloyd Dyer to tuck home. The ex Leicester man found himself in acres of space in the box and put it past David Stockdale nicely. The away following went into raptures of cheer as their side took one step to a massive three points. It would take two goals to seal Monk’s third home win as Blues boss, but they wouldn’t let Dyer’s goal halt their great escape. The goal for Nigel Clough’s side definitely gave them some wind in their wings, as Marvin Sordell had a couple of shots on goal. Many chances from Jota were to follow but still no goal for Birmingham and time was getting on. You must have admitted it was one of the most one sided affairs you’d have seen in a long time, Burton had just 3 shots all second half to Blues’ 13. Lukas Jutkiewitz became more and more pivotal as the game went on and it was his striker three minutes from time that ensued the home team went away with at least a point. Not so much delight, more relief as Birmingham were to stay within touching distance of championship status for next season.