A fixture blues haven’t lost in for 21 years, would that stay the same after 90 minutes at the Den between Millwall and Birmingham City?
Steve Cotterill’s players were buzzing after their heroics last Friday night in the 1-0 victory over Cardiff City, who topped the table at the time. Millwall on the other hand had been steadily rising up the table and consolidating their position as a championship team. You’d have thought the underdogs would have been the home side Millwall after how well Birmingham played against Cardiff, but it was the home team who started the game the better.
Blues couldn’t get a touch of the ball for most of the opening stages, Neal Harris’ side were first to everything. The formidable strike partnership of Lee Gregory and the veteran Steve Morrison helped the lions drive the blues defence into mistake after mistake and that then led to most of Blues’ problems at the back. Maxine Colin was getting pressured when the long balls were getting flooded forward to the two strikers they fell to him and he struggled every time to deal with this. I don’t think Cotterill’s team talk went to plan as the back 4 of blues were forever floating long balls over the top towards Isaac Vassell, but he isn’t as tall as someone like Morrison so that was making the visitors lose the ball and then the home team could counter from that. George saville was solid in the middle of the park for Millwall and he was winning all of the battles with, believe it or not, Cheick N’doye.
Birmingham could not find a way into the game, they were averaging about 20% possession all half, Millwall were to have 6 corners before the first half was over; granted nothing came from them but they did not stop testing blues goalkeeper Tomascz Kuszczak. The Millwall forwards were becoming ever more challenging for Micheal Morrison and Marc Roberts to deal with, and that was shown as until a spark of magic from Jaques Maghoma, blues hadn’t had any sort of chance in the home teams half.
As the first 45 drew to a close, it was definitely the home side in the driving seat, with blues massively out of it.
No changes from either side heading into the second half, no surprise from the home team as they were playing probably the best they have all year since their promotion from league one back in May. David Davis, Maxine Colin, Isaac Vassell and Michael Morrison are the usual stand out performers in Birmingham colours but in the game at the Den they were the ones who made the performance worse than it could have been.
And as mentioned previous, Colin was under huge pressure, and that evidence was proven when he scored an own goal from a through pass from Steve Morrison of Millwall; Blues one down 49th minute. After that the players heads dropped, there was no spirit or desire to want to succeed in the game so the opposition saw straight through that. It’s inconsistent performances that are distracting us, a win against top of the table Cardiff but then the same team goes and loses out to a mid-table side who didn’t play that well, but better than us which won them the game.
It did not end there, the home team continued to bully Birmingham and eventually found their killer goal scored from Ryan Tunnicliffle, a rebounded effort from a Tom Elliot shot saved. As an act of desperation, Steve Cotterill threw Jermaine Boga on for Che Adams to see if the Chelsea loanee could add a possible late spark which didn’t do anything except lose the ball and nearly concede a third!
Overall a pretty disgusting performance from a fans perspective but to put it lighter, unacceptable, especially the fact that it’s the bitter West Midlands derby coming up now in just over a weeks time; Cotterill will have to regather his troups for that one!
RB McLaughlin , CB Hutchinson , CB Cooper , LB Merideth
RM Wallace , CM Saville , CM Tunnicliffe , LM O’brien
LS Gregory , RS Morrison (C)
RB Colin , CB Morrison (C) , CB Roberts , LB Grounds
RCM Davis , LCM Kieftenbeld
RW Maghoma , CAM N’doye , LW Adams
Shots – Millwall; 14 , Birmingham; 16
Possession – Millwall; 51% , Birmingham; 49%
Shots on target – Millwall; 3 , Birmingham; 4
Fouls – Millwall; 13 , Birmingham; 15
Corners – Millwall; 6 , Birmingham; 3