With Barnsley’s game in hand looming, a win for Birmingham City against the Blades of Sheffield United would do them the world of good. Bolton were up against soon to be named champions Wolves, so their afternoon wasn’t to be a good one.
Birmingham started the game brightly, it looked like both sides had nothing to lose at one point. You could tell from a neutral perspective that Blues should never have been in the position they found themselves in, for the third straight season. Garry Monk has done a great job since being appointed and this was echoed by the home fans. Singing his name in a song they used to hail Gary Rowett by.
Chris Wilder’s side made an impactful start with two former Birmingham employees in their ranks. Mark Duffy and Clayton Donaldson. Donaldson was with the Blues for a fair few seasons before leaving for a fresh challenge. Duffy wasn’t at St Andrews for very long and he made that clear when he gave the Blades the lead. Celebrating in the faces of the fans in the Tilton and Kop corner; he was booked for his offences.
After the visitors opened up the scoring, Birmingham looked more up for it, but just couldn’t find the breakthrough. You could see why Sheffield United were in the mix for the play offs, a well drilled side where every player knew their role. This seemed to be the case in Monk’s reign so far. Since his introduction back into the side in December, Jaques Maghoma has been one of the most consistent players, I for one have ever seen in a royal blue shirt – he keeps performing even when Birmingham are on their knees.
News coming in that Bolton were behind to Wolves and Leeds led Barnsley, the stadium began to lift and the atmosphere was rocking!
Right-back Wes Harding was starting his sixth game in the Blues first team and he had a blazing chance missed, not far over. Blues seemed to be controlling the game even though it was the away side who were in the ascendancy. In the first half, Blues had seven more shots than the visitors and this was backed up when the boys in royal blue scored from a corner. Che Adams with the flick on and Marc Roberts scoring his first goal for Birmingham, half time and it was level.
As the second half got under way, it was one of the loudest atmosphere’s known to date at St Andrews. 1-1 and the place was buzzing as if the Blues were in cruise control, when they were anything but. Again, it was the home side who started the second half the greater, Blues were turning on the style against a strong Sheffield united team. The back four, even without Harlee Dean through suspension, managed to keep Mark Duffy quiet and Michael Morrison dealt with the Ariel threat of Clayton Donaldson well. Maxime Colin was keeping his consistent performances to a high standard at left back and Jota out on the wing was having a strong game.
As the game got ever closer to the 90 minute whistle, Blues knew the results were going their way but it would make it a whole lot better if they were to snatch the winner which is exactly what they did… Che Adams fed the path of Maghoma and the player of the season, in most fans eyes, tucked away the goal that could secure championship status for yet another season!
Craig Gardner’s steady influence saw Che Adams’ pass to Maghoma create a goal that could dictate how the season ends for Birmingham.
A huge three points, five points above Barnsley ahead of their game in hand on Tuesday. Bolton defeated by Wolves meaning they go below the boys in royal blue and sit just three points above both Barnsley and now Burton after their win saw the Black Cats of Sunderland relegated for the second straight season. All to play for still, but a massive victory on Saturday for Birmingham which should see them safe now.
RB Harding , CB Morrison , CB Roberts , LB Colin
RM Jota , CM Kieftenbeld , CM Davis , LM Maghoma
RS Adams , LS Jutkiewicz
RCB Stearman , CB Basham , LCB O‘Connell
RWB Baldock , RCM Lundstram , CM Evans , LCM Fleck , LWB Stevens
Possession – Blues 42% , Sheffield Utd 58%
Shots – Blues 16 , Sheffield Utd 7
Shots on target – Blues 7 , Sheffield Utd 3
Corners – Blues 4 , Sheffield Utd 3
Fouls committed – Blues 15 , Sheffield Utd 14