West Bromwich Albion 2 – Birmingham City 3
Wednesday 14 September 2022
Blues won at the Hawthorns for the first time in an age last night in a thrilling game which goes some way to restoring faith in both football and Blues.
Blues won at the Hawthorns for the first time in an age last night in a thrilling game which went some way to restoring faith in both football and Blues.
Blues have been a hard watch for the best part of a decade now. Not only have they not won many games but, with the odd exception, the football and footballers on show have been pretty dire.
So much so that, along with the off-field ownership shenanigans, many have been turned off going and many others, myself included, left questioning whether continuing to go is just a habit you can’t break. Why am I wasting my time with this when I could be doing something more fulfilling in my life?
But then along comes a game like last night’sand you remember why you do it. A committed Blues team playing some fabulous attacking football, particularly on the break, but one that was also prepared to dig in when the going got tough, as it did after both the Baggies’ goals, meant that you could forget the farcical ongoing ownership saga and be drawn into the game itself. The result was renewed hope for the Blues’ future.
Now, we all know from painful experience that there’s an even chance that hope might be extinguished again on Saturday as we entertain bottom-of-the-table Coventry, a classic BCFC banana skin.
But for the moment, let’s enjoy that moment of hope and positivity and revel in our team actually playing really well.
One change for the side that had snatched a win at Preston in what seemed an age ago. Young Williams came in for the once again injured Graham. Williams played wing-back on his ‘wrong’ side, something I’ve never enjoyed seeing with defenders. It came back to bite us on the arse, particularly with West Brom’s equaliser where Williams’ positioning left a lot to be desired, but then so did the more venerated Trusty’s. In fairness, Williams recovered from a pretty rocky start and grew into the game before being substituted late on.
We started well. An early snapshot by Deeney, having by far his best game for Blues, after some nice work involving Chong set the tone for the opening of the game.
When Blues took the lead on 14, it was no more than their opening deserved and, in keeping with the rest of the night, it was a really good goal. Chong again involved, driving forward with the ball, which found its way to Bacuna in the number ten position, just where we want him. A beautifully weighted ball through the legs of the West Brom defender was perfect for Hogan to run on to in the box. And when Hogan doesn’t have time to think about it, he often sticks it away, as he did with assurance here.
After that, Blues played some lovely stuff before the left side of the defence let them down and let Wallace in for the equaliser.
Conceding such a bad goal, all down to being out of shape and position, seemed to drain the confidence out of Blues and they then endured a rocky ten minutes to quarter of an hour where they lost their belief and just started hoofing the ball away, often surrendering possession in dangerous places. But they rode the storm and started to come back into it as half time approached and the game evened up.
The Throstles started the second half marginally the better of the two sides, but nine minutes in Blues burst their bubble with a fantastic breakaway goal, again featuring Bacuna and Hogan.
Bacuna won the ball on the edge of our area and gave it to Hogan who in turn laid it off to Deeney. Hogan then set off like a hare in a straight line for the Albion box. He arrived in time to meet Bacuna’s inch-perfect ball, swept in from the left where he had been found by Deeney, which curled round just out of reach of the last defender and into Hogan’s path. Again, another instinctive finish as Hogan passed the ball into the net off the post. Spellbinding stuff from Blues.
Just as I thinking/tweeting that it was going to be long last 20 minutes/half hour, Blues relieved the pressure and put a buffer between them and the Baggies as Hogan completed his hat trick.
This one was more of Hogan’s own making with a fair degree of help from some pretty inept defending by former Blues’ loanee, Bartley. Hogan’s run down the left wasn’t matched by his teammates and when he made his way towards the box he was pretty much on his own. Bartley made Hogan’s mind up for him by not closing him down and leaving a yawning gap between him and the dead-ball line for Hogan to motor into. Hogan accepted the invitation and finished it off with a cross-shot which went between Button’s legs. These West Brom boys could do with learning how to keep their legs together.
It should have been all plain sailing from there, and it would have been but for the intervention of Mr Smith in the 83rd minute with a piss poor refereeing decision. Thomas Asante was a good yard outside of our box when he was clipped by Sanderson. Nevertheless, Mr Smith, a good twenty yards behind play, gave a penalty. Now, I’m not one for conspiracy theories that the EFL have got it in for us in particular, but some decisions make you wonder.
“… we ended with a side looking like a Lee Clark pick.”
Thomas Asante picked himself up to dispatch the spot kick and our bums were squeakier than they should have been for the last quarter of an hour, including this year’s fad of far too much injury time.
But the Blues side showed admirable resolve to see it out, particularly given the state of our back line by the end of the game. With Roberts and Bielik having been forced off with injuries, we ended with a side looking like a Lee Clark pick. A rookie midfielder at right back, a right-back at centre half, two loanees making up the central defence and a forward/wide man at left-back.
But see it out they did for an exhilarating win on a night which bought the excitement and the reason back into watching Blues.