Birmingham City 1 – Swansea 0
Friday, April 2 2021
A massive three points for Blues in a match high on endeavour but low on quality.
Bowyer showed a willingness to be flexible with tactics by starting with a 5-3-2 to match up the opposition, but unlike his predecessor the tactic formed a basis to try and win the game rather than not lose it.
The change in shape gave a start for the out in the cold Seddon. Pedersen stepped inside to form a three at the back, Sunjic came into midfield, in place of Harper, and with Hogan feeling the effects of a back injection, Leko started up front. The change of shape meant no place for Bela, who’d looked the best player in Bowyer’s first couple of games, and Halilovic moving inside to play number 10.
As in the first two Bowyer games, the energy was good from the start. A good Swansea side were harried and, particularly in the first half, never allowed to get into their stride. Throughout the game, Etheridge was only troubled seriously twice, early on from Lowe and a second half free kick from Dhanda.
Blues were the better side in the first half. They appeared to have got their reward for their dominance when a penalty was awarded after Roberts kicked the bottom of Leko’s foot. But Jukey let the Swans off the hook by blasting a poor penalty right down the centre which hit goalie Woodman who hadn’t moved when the kick was taken.
Despite the lack of wingers, Blues were still getting the ball into the box with much more regularity than under Karanka. That was partly down to the Robert’s long throw, which has now reached 1,038 without any sign of success.
Second half the game edged in Swansea’s favour. They started to dominate midfield, but they failed to create much in the way of clear cut chances, a lot of that down to good defending by Blues.
Truth is that Blues created next to nothing in the second half and the game as a whole became very scrappy. Creativity was at a premium for both sides, Halilovic was virtually anonymous, eventually replace by Toral.
A couple of subs up front, Cosgorve and Hogan for Jukey and Leko, seemed to be just part of the game meandering to a goalless conclusion.
But it’s interesting what starts to break your way when you’re more committed to winning the game. Out of nothing, an aimless ball into the box, Sunjic ran off his tracker who just clipped him for the second Blues’ penalty of the night as the clock just ticked over the ninety minutes.
With Jukey off the pitch, the question was who was going to take the penalty. Cahoonas man turned out to be Scott Hogan. He did what Jukey didn’t and picked a spot and blasted it into the corner, giving Woodman no chance.
A committed, energetic and disciplined team performance with no stand out individuals saw Blues register back-to-back home wins for the first time since I had a full head of hair.
The result massively improves our chances of avoiding the drop, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Consecutive home wins against promotion chasers Reading and Swanseas augurs well, though.
MoM – No stand out performer, this was won by collective spirit rather than individual brilliance.