Wednesday 2 November 2022
Nothing much doing at St Andrew’s last night as two committed sides battled against each other and the elements, canceling each other out and failing to produce the quality needed to enliven a dull game.
Same starting eleven who put in such an exhilarating performance against QPR last Friday. And that might have been part of the problem, as Blues seemed very leggy in the first half playing on a rain-sodden pitch after it had tipped down for hours before the game.
The swirling wind was hardly conducive to playing good football either, as was Millwall’s effective plan to stifle the opposition. Can’t complain too much about that as we’ve benefitted from Rowett’s nous in that department ourselves in the past. Plus, our relative success this season has been based on being well-organised ourselves, so we can hardly complain when it’s done to us.
It was that organisation that saw us get a point. The back five and goalkeeper, and Bielik just in front of them were excellent, although Bielik did cough up the ball a bit more than usual.
While we hardly posed a threat, the same could be said of Millwall. Apart from a good block in a one-on-one after a Sanderson slip, Ruddy was confined to coming from crosses and sweeping up for this night’s work, both of which he did with his usual excellence.
The only time we came remotely close to scoring was in a slightly sparkier second half when Colin was released down the flank to flash one across the box that Hogan was within a whisker of connecting, if anything he’d got ahead of the ball.
Apart from that, it was huff and puff all-round with some reasonably neat midfield play leading to very little.
The subs, Bacuna, Hall and Jukey added a bit of pep, replacing Chong, who didn’t have his best night, Hannibal, who ran himself into the ground once again, and Deeney, who put a good shift in. There’s an argument that with so many games back-to-back in such a short space of time that the first two subs should have started the game and, certainly, that they should be in contention for Saturday at Stoke.
It feels like it’s time to see more of Hall after his exciting cameos off the bench in the last few weeks.
So, a point against tough opposition – not to be sniffed at – leaving us not so far off the play-offs, but, equally, not so far away from the bottom three.
“a hectic six-day period that could define our season”
This is about halfway through the crazy schedule leading up to the World Cup break, Stoke away and home against Swansea and Sunderland to come in a hectic six-day period that could define our season. By the time the well-deserved break comes, will we be looking over our shoulders or looking upwards toward the top six?
I think that there’s enough resilience, organisation and skill about this group to make this season more comfortable and enjoyable than those we’ve had recently, particularly if we can add another younger, pacier forward in the window.