Saturday 8 October 2022
Blues bounced back from defeat at Middlesbrough to, as usual, beat my home town club Bristol City in a dominant display where the central defenders were the stars of the day in a good all-round team performance.
Eustace made the changes that he maybe should have made on Wednesday night, injecting some energy into the team with the recall of George Hall and the first start for Hanibal after his all-action display in the second half at the Riverside.
As I thought, after conceding set-piece goals at both Sheffield and ‘Boro, there was a recall from the wilderness for Harlee Dean. The former skipper had a good game, along with his central defensive partners Trusty and Sanderson, to the extent that captain for the day Ruddy had virtually nothing to do bar collecting a couple of crosses and dealing with a few back passes. A woeful Bristol City didn’t manage a meaningful effort on target all afternoon, partly down to their own inadequacies, partly to good defensive work from the Blues.
Not only did Blues tighten up defensively from set pieces, they also scored from three of their own, Trusty taking advantage twice and Sanderson once from much-improved delivery from Chong and Hanibal.
It was set pieces which were ultimately the difference between the two sides as in open play Blues continued to be wasteful both in spurning good chances and in their final ball. Both Chong, pushed further forward to support Hogan in Deeney’s absence, and West Ham loanee Longelo had good games, but both got themselves repeatedly into positions where the pass or cross was lacking.
The first set-piece goal came early and set the tone for the whole game. On three minutes, Trusty met Chong’s dead ball and his header was adjudged to have crossed the line – first goal for the American in Blues’ colours.
After the first goal, Blues continued to pile on the pressure with Bielik running the show – best footballer we’ve had down St Andrews for a while. Both Hogan and Chong missed one-on-one chances which had you yearning for the days of Super Kev when you know he’d have put them away.
Although it should have been more, Blues did go into the break two up, when Trusty grabbed his second. This time he followed up his own header which came back off the post following Hanibal’s corner. A two goal lead was no more than Blues deserved at half-time.
Opposition boss Pearson obviously knew something was up with this side, making three changes at the start of the second period. While this perked the Robins up a wee bit, Blues comfortably weathered the storm – more of a light breeze in reality – and Ruddy continued to have a relaxed afternoon.
“A thoroughly entertaining afternoon at St Andrews for Blues fans.”
Indeed, Blues came on strong again as an attacking force, playing some nice stuff involving the wing-backs getting forward repeatedly, Max has been playing well recently whether at centre-back or wing-back. Bielik continued to stroll around like he had all the time in the world, often a marker of the good player. He almost grabbed one himself as his volley flashed wide following another set piece.
Another did come and it was another from a set piece, Sanderson bundling one in at the far post following a corner.
Eustace was then able to indulge in a raft of substitutions as we had the rare situation of a relaxed end to a game at St Andrew’s, the only issue was whether Blues could add to their total.
We were able to enjoy nice cameos from James and Bellingham and the sight of Jukey rolling back the years to crash in one of his trademark headers from a nice Deeney cross, which the keeper struggled to keep out.
A thoroughly entertaining afternoon at St Andrews for Blues fans. A comprehensive win in warm Autumn sunshine where all the players contributed well to a very strong team performance. Optimism abounds.