Sunday, April 18 2021
Got away with one here. But who cares as Blues virtually sealed their place in the division. The worst and the most Karanka-like performance of the Bowyer reign saw a huge win to stretch the lead over Rotherham to nine points with games running out.
Same side, save McGree for the injured Halilovic, started well in the first fifteen. But as the game wore on, Blues came under increasing pressure and created little themselves, until Rotherham, understandably, ran out of steam in the last twenty.
For most of the match it was difficult to believe that Rotherham were the team playing their third game in a week, as they were the ones with more energy, intensity and chances.
Rather than take the game to the opponents, as we have been doing, Blues fell back and aimed to repel whatever Rotherham threw at them. This they were able to do as a result of luck, poor finishing and good defending, particularly from the three centre-backs. They were needed as Etheridge had one of those days when he looked mighty uncomfortable with the ball into the box from wide.
In the first half, Ladapo was causing all sorts of problems. Both sides were playing directly, but Rotherham were doing it better, with home chances racking up and going begging.
Blues really needed to up there game after half time, but instead it was Rotherham who continued to dictate the pace.
Soon after the break, Etheridge missed an in-swinging corner and needed Gardner to hack off the line to persevere what was to become the fourth clean sheet on the bounce.
Then Wing allowed Pedersen to block a shot when he should have scored, as Rotherham, again, asked all the questions.
A home goal seemed inevitable and Blues were hanging on for dear life.
And then it began to turn. Inevitably, Rotherham started to run out of steam reflected most in their three central defenders, two of them getting booked for hauling down Blues’ players on the break, and cramp and injuries affecting all of them.
You felt that pace on the break would present Blues’ best chance of snatching an undeserved win, but it was a set pice that did it.
Fittingly it was the three centre backs who created the winning goal. Roberts took a throw in short, got it back from Seddon and then continued his Beckham-esque streak of late by curling another great cross into the box. It was flicked on by Pedersen and then headed in by Dean, albeit with a mighty deflection from Ihikewe.
The goal came on 88 minutes and Rotherham had nothing left in the tank to respond, despite having made a raft of subs ten minutes earlier, They’d actually been a spent force for about twenty minutes as the Blues’ defence found it easier and easier to keep them at arms’ length and ended the game quite comfortably.
Was it pretty? No. Was it deserved? No. Do we care? No. A massive three points which should see the Blues safe.
MoM – Harlee Dean – leading the team out of trouble and the wining goal to boot.