Ipswich Town at home for Birmingham City after the international break and a chance to really show why they should remain in this league for next season. Ipswich come to the second city knowing their manager, Mick McCarthy, won’t be at Portman Road next season after announcing he won’t be extending his contract.
One change from the side that last beat Hull City 3-0 here before the international break. Wes Harding keeps his place, but David Davis is welcomed back into the team after a lengthy spell out. A big result needed from the Blues after Barnsley slipping to a 2-2 draw against Bristol City on good Friday; a win would lift Garry Monk’s team out of the bottom three.
The game started quite fast-paced from the home team, you could tell Birmingham were on the front foot. Che Adams looked to be more of a creator and supplier for Lukas Jutkiewitz and the wingers Jota, and Maghoma as he was sitting fairly deep. Early opportunities did come, Ipswich’s keeper was tested by Blues mainly from corners early on.
This time though, a free kick was drifted in by Jota, Michael Morrison was there unmarked, tried to lift it back in but nobody was there and Bialkowski cleared up the mess. Blues kept pressing, Ipswich’s season was all but over with them sitting 12th in the table, so Blues knew they had the game there for the taking… And taking they did when Maghoma was brought down in the box, penalty Birmingham. With the record signing man Jota scoring twice against the Tigers last home game, he would be the man to take the penalty. Stepped up and 1-0 Blues, a nice finish tucked bottom corner.
Blues had clearly worked on sitting on leads because for the rest of the game the tractor boys got nowhere near Monk’s side. Jordan Spence looked good going forward for the visitors from right back, but Maxine Colin was fast becoming a strong contender for man of the match with his defensive performance. This then allowed Jaques Maghoma to break forward, he then had Adams and Jota to pass it to and Town really didn’t have a clue how to deal with the pressure. Half time came and Blues lead 1-0 thanks to that Jota penalty.
Out came the teams for the second half, Blues made no changes, Ipswich did but not until the 52nd minute when young Manchester City prospect Bersant Celina replaced Grant Ward, a former Tottenham youth player. The away team tried to bring Martyn Waghorn into the game a bit more but he didn’t have enough opportunities to make David Stockdale work. Waghorn was the corner taker for McCarthy and he put them all right in the gloves of Stockdale, making it easy for Birmingham to defend.
The boys in royal blue had Ipswich right where they wanted them, Monk’s men just couldn’t seem to find a second. At this point, I think tactically it was easier to park the bus and sit on it which is why the former Leeds and Middlesbrough boss opted to bring on Cheick N’doye for Mikael Kieftenbeld. Kieftenbeld not having the best of games in a Blues shirt of late, N’doye for twelve minutes made a nuisance of himself in the middle and broke the play up. Ipswich did have a late chance when Jordan Spence had his shot tipped over the bar by the Blues number 13, but still nothing going the visitor’s way.
A tough pill to swallow for Ipswich, they could have come to St. Andrews and knocked the confidence out of Birmingham but the run they’re on under Garry Monk is starting to give them hope. Two points above the drop zone, Blues still have work to do starting with Bolton away on Tuesday night. Barnsley travel to Nottingham to take on Forest in a game Blues hope Forest can win.
RB Harding , CB Morrison , CB Dean , LB Colin
RM Jota , CM Davis , CM Kieftenbeld , LM Maghoma
RS Adams , LS Jutkiewitz
RWB Spence , RCB Carter-Vickers , CB Chambers , LCB Webster , LWB Knudsen
RCM Ward , CM Skuse , LCM Connolly
RS Waghorn , LS Sears
Possession – Blues 35% , Ipswich 64%
Shots on goal – Blues 13 , Ipswich 8
Shots on target – Blues 3 , Ipswich 1
Corners – Blues 7 , Ipswich 7
Fouls committed – Blues 9 , Ipswich 11
Man of the Match: Match ratings saw Jaques Maghoma and Lukas Jutkiewitz joint on 8.