Zola had his first win as Birmingham boss against Fulham last weekend but had a really tough game to follow that up with on Friday night. A trip up the M1 to face Carlos Carvahal’s Sheffield Wednesday side was an exciting prospect, but with a not so good record from his first eleven games, and the pressure was still on Gianfranco to get his players to perform.
It was an unchanged team from whom played in Zola’s first win vs Fulham last Saturday and he again used the diamond formation.
The Owls opened the game with decent spells on the ball, with a chance or two from mainly Fernando Forestieri. Once Blues gained possession, we looked strong on the ball and grew into the match and just as we were, Miakel Kieftenbeld made a tackle to concede a corner and from that corner, was where new Wednesday signing Jordan Rhodes popped up losing his marker of Jonathan Grounds to header in his first goal for Sheffield Wednesday.
Later on in the second half, Jutkiewitz, Gardner and Keita looked Blues’ most promising players and Emilio Nsue from right-back was as an all round good player in the first half also. There were still shaky periods at the back with the new partnership of Robinson and Grounds at centre-half when Wednesday hit us on the counter-attack, but considering Blues were the visiting side, Zola’s men dominated with many chances to certainly match the home team.
No changes at the break and the ‘as you were’ mentality was the mindset of Blues going into the second half. Birmingham one down and had an incline that there may have been something in the game for them and with it being an end-to-end game for at least 70 minutes, you would have thought that Blues may have the quality and injection in their side to score that elusive equalising goal. But with misfocus in defence, Sheffield Wednesday kept on piling on the pressure with set pieces left, right & centre.
13 City shots to the Owls’ 17, but still the boys in royal blue fought till the end and did come close with a free-kick from Craig Gardner, which hit the side netting and then a blistering attempt off the bar from the same player; but that still wasn’t enough for to get past goalkeeper Kieran Westwood.
Chances, throw-ins, corners and free-kicks from both sides between 65-80 and then the home side’s prominence arose when Sam Winnall scored his fist goal for Sheffield Wednesday from a whipping Barry Bannan cross; things from there on in just couldn’t go right for Blues.
With substitutions of Frei and Adams coming on to replace Sinclair and Kieftenbeld, you might have thought there was a certain tactic for Blues heading into the final 7 or so minutes, but with a miss in communication between captain Paul Robinson and fellow defender Cheick Keita, former Middlesborough player Adam Reach was able to run in to slot the ball home from 7 yards and end off an all round disappointing night for Birmingham City football club.
1 win in 12 games now for Blues boss Gianfranco Zola, where next? Preston North End at home on Tuesday night, a possible win and a possible change in fortune?
Birmingham – GK; Kuszczak , RB; Nsue , CB; Robinson , CB; Grounds , LB; Keita
CM; Gleeson , CM; Kieftenbeld , CM; Davis
LS; Sinclair , RS; Jutkiewitz
Sheffield Wednesday – GK; Westwood , RB; Hunt , CB; Sasso , CB; Loosens, LB; Fox
LM; Forestieri , CM; Bannan , CM; Hutchinson , RM; Wallace
LS; Rhodes , RS; Winnall
Possession – Sheffield Wednesday; 41.8% , Birmingham City; 58.2%
Shots – Sheffield Wednesday; 17 , Birmingham City; 13
Shots on target – Sheffield Wednesday; 7 , Birmingham City; 3
Corners – Sheffield Wednesday; 6 , Birmingham City; 6
Fouls – Sheffield Wednesday; 16 , Birmingham City; 13