A cold and flat St. Andrews was the setting for an abysmal response to Sunday’s derby day defat. The 2-0 defeat means that Blues have suffered three back to back defeats for the first time this season. Before I say anymore, it must be noted that Millwall came and did a proper job on Blues; a professional away performance.
In terms of Blues’ performance, it really was shocking. The team looked devoid of any creativity, seriously lacking in intent and purpose; but most importantly, a team who lacked real, real quality. I am not in the business of overreacting and creating panic, but that display really was dreadful- and with a potential points deduction looming over our heads, this season really could turn into a dogfight.
Before we get to the match ratings, I want to make it clear that I’m confident that this recent run of form isn’t down to a lack of effort. Instead, I think that we’re being found out by teams. Teams are allowing us to have the ball and we unfortunately don’t have the quality to break them down. Therefore, we have resorted to hopelessly “hoofing” the ball forward, which teams like Millwall will deal with all day long. I can’t emphasise enough how very frustrating this game was; Blues’ performance worryingly mirrored that of a Steve Cotterill Blues team. St Andrews was flat, subdued and bleak; this Blues team looked mentally exhausted following Sundays devastating defeat. Whilst this performance simply wasn’t good enough and I do believe that we could be in for a bumpy ride as the season draws to a close, it is important that we try and keep all the positives of this campaign at the forefront of our minds. Garry Monk has restored pride, passion and fight into our beloved football club and if more adversity is to come our way, then there is nobody I would trust more to steer us away from the potential choppy waters ahead. Hopefully Monk and the boys in blue respond Saturday and send 5,600 Blues fans, heading back to the second city full of joy, rather than sorrow. Keep Right On!
Camp 5 – Could do very little about the first goal, but should’ve came off of his line a little sharper for the second. Either way, his defence offered him insufficient protection for both goals.
Harding 4– They say you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone and no saying could ring truer when referring to Maxime Colin. Whilst I can’t fault Wes’ effort, he simply wasn’t good enough in defence or attack tonight. Some naïve defending, combined with some hit and hope punts down the line, fundamentally show how much we miss Colin. Harding went missing for Millwall’s second as Thomson raced through unopposed. I rate Harding very highly, I just think he has a bit of learning to do yet, before he can stake a claim as a first team regular.
Morrison 5– The defending was shambolic for both goals and ultimately you look at you’re captain when these problems arise. Although he was by no means comfortable against Millwall’s Gregory, he had very little to do defensively following the second goal. He found himself ‘stuck’ for out-balls far too often and ended up despairingly punting the ball forwards.
Dean 4.5– I have a huge feeling that Dean is the mystery player nursing an injury, which has been alluded to by people affiliated with the club. Dean has looked off the pace for quite some weeks now and I won’t be surprised to see Roberts contending for his place when he returns. His defending was below par, especially for Millwall’s second where he seemingly allowed Thomson to run through unopposed. He, like Morrison was also guilty of aimlessly launching the ball forward when options were scarce.
Pedersen 6*- Arguably Blues’ best player of the night, although that doesn’t say a lot! I thought he defended well and offered Mahoney support offensively- especially in the first half when he engaged in a few mazy runs in the Millwall half.
Mrabti 4– Another desperate display from a man who appears to be struggling to come to terms with English football. I was seriously unimpressed with his shift against Hull and I find myself in the same position writing this now. Mrabti lacked imagination on the ball and rendered the right side of the Blues attack useless for the 60 minutes he was on the field. Mrabti had a real opportunity to prove his worth to Monk, in an attempt to become a main fixture in this Blues side, but based on this performance alone, he looks well short of being a regular starter for Blues currently.
Kieftenbeld 5– Wasn’t his usual industrial self and was a bit off his game in the first 45. Was rightly substituted by Monk at Half-Time, especially considering the fact he is one yellow away from a ban.
G Gardner 6– One of a few bright sparks for Blues. Played an exquisite through ball to Mrabti, which the on-rushing Martin did well to intercept. Although I believe Blues could have played for 24 hours without scoring tonight, you did feel as though one of the Gardner’s eye for a pass was going to be the key to finding a goal, on what was a tremendously frustrating night.
Mahoney 6– Another slight positive for Blues was Mahoney’s display. He looked bright at times and his directness was encouraging. He puffed, but ultimately the Millwall defence was resolute. He nearly got the breakthrough Blues needed, when his goal was disallowed early in the second period for offside.
Vassell 4.5– Competed well aerially and it was great to see him starting a game of football for Blues again. He didn’t offer himself as an option to feet, as much a she should’ve. At times his movement was a little predictable and didn’t really create anything of any real note. He hasn’t provided anywhere near enough to stake a claim for Jutkiewicz’s shirt.
Adams 5– Adams’ ‘mini-drought’ goes one as Blues appear more reliant on him than ever for goals. Whilst the service he received wasn’t great, neither was his movement. Him and Vassell often both looked for the ball in-behind, leaving nobody available to receive the ball to feet. Not his finest showing in a Blues shirt.
C Gardner 6– Added impetus to Blues’ attacking play and you could tell he was actively trying to find a breakthrough. Although he wasn’t successful in getting Blues back into the game, a solid second half showing from himself has reminded Monk of his technical qualities. He came close to getting Blues back into the game from a few speculative efforts.
Jutkiewicz 6– He proved what Blues miss without him; he offers a focal point to the Blues attack and consequently brings other people into the game. He competed bravely against the towering Millwall defenders.
Maghoma 5– He tried hard but ultimately wasn’t able to offer anything of real value for Blues.