A strange sensation

Adrian at the Carling Cup final at Wembley in 2011

Birmingham City 3 – Luton Town 0

Saturday February 12 2022

A strange, almost forgotten sensation came over me at St Andrew’s yesterday – I found myself enjoying watching Blues play.

Towards the end of the game, with Blues three goals to the good, Gardner driving the team on from midfield and the front three showing pace, skill and movement to threaten in form Luton Town at will, I lost myself in the moment and the dread and anxiety that has characterised watching Blues for months fell away.

And yet the first twenty minutes held no hint of this nirvana as our first goal was very much against the run of play, being the first time I can remember us actually getting into their box in the game.

Luton had started the game by far the better of the two teams, seizing the initiative and putting lots of early pressure on Blues’ makeshift defence. This, again featured two full-backs at centre-half, along with 19-year-old loanee, Mengi, whose game-ending injury on Wednesday hadn’t turned out to be so bad after all.

3-4-3 it was again then, but with the rightly recalled Hernadez taking the place of the laid low Hogan to, along with the pushed further forward Bacuna, support the loan central striker, Taylor.

There was also a recall for Woods in place of Sunjic, a selection which is always going to mean that we have more of a chance of getting the ball upfield to our danger men up front to do their thing.

Woods took his place alongside the much-maligned Gardner, captain on the day, and his display made a few of his critics eat their words, the keyboard warriors were conspicuous by their absence after the game.

It was the first real display of Gardner’s hard work and tenacity which lead to Blues first goal – balancing qualities needed to complement the creativity of the front three.

Ratting around on the right flank, Gardner worked the ball into the box, where Taylor showed his ability with his back to the goal, laying the ball back to Bacuna to score his first for the club with a composed and clever finish into the top of the net.

This was the point where the game changed, not as the Luton manager, Jones, claimed afterwards the incursion of many tennis balls raining down from stands in continued #BSHLOUT protests against the owners on the fourteenth minute, nor the errant K2 steward who broke up a promising Luton attack by coming on to the pitch to retrieve a ball while play was live. There were a good 10 minutes between the balls and the ball in the net, which Luton again dominated. A poor excuse from the Welshman to account for this team’s worsening performance as the game wore on.

It was pretty even after the goal, but the front three were showing signs of coming to life on the back of the confidence given by the goal.

“In a kind of Super Kev, Forsell way, you felt that Taylor was going to bury it.”

Blues were gifted their second immediately after the break when DVB Lansbury calamitously played the ball back in what turned out to be a perfect through ball for Taylor. In a kind of Super Kev, Forsell way, you felt that Taylor was going to bury it. Sometimes players suit some clubs more than others, could this be the case with Taylor at Blues?

Even at 2-0, it still wasn’t comfortable, particularly with Derby fresh in our minds.
The third, however, banished any worries, with a bit of good control, trickery and a crisp shot, Hernandez scored at the far post. It was at that moment, that the strange sensation occurred, football could be enjoyable and not just a source of angst.

The front three rightly took the plaudits, they’ve taken our attacking to a whole new level, but it’s worth noting the contributions of some players who’ve been getting pelters recently on social media. Pedersen and, particularly, Colin were excellent in seeing off the not inconsiderable threat of Adebayo along with the ever-impressive Mengi.

An uplifting performance from Blues, making the drive home to Bristol and the rest of the weekend a relaxed and enjoyable affair. Stupid how football can affect your mood so much.

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