December 26, 2012 by Made In Brum
Barnsley 1 Blues 2.
Did you all have a nice Christmas? It’ll be that little bit better now after picking up three points at Oakwell. Blues dug deep and soaked up a lot of first half pressure to eventually win the game and deservedly so.
Try writing a report on Blues and Barnsley without mentioning THAT game. The lowest of the low this season so far. Embarrassing. But this afternoon, Lee Clark’s men were a lot better. At times, it had to be ugly. But needs must.
Clark said before the match that it wasn’t about revenge, it was about three points. And that was exactly the case. On paper, it looked a tough fixture. The injuries have been piling up and young lads have been carrying the can. The team that started the Burnley game was Blues’ youngest ever on average at 23. We’ve been forced to field these inexperienced, but clearly talented lads. But its very refreshing to see the potential coming through. You can look at it both ways. Today, Paul Robinson returned in place of Will Packwood and Wade Elliott came in for Ravel Morrison.
The highlight of the team sheet was that Craig Davies, the man who scored four for the Tykes at St. Andrews, was on the bench. But Marcus Tudgay was just as much a handful. Fortunately, the back four were decent today.
Jack Butland made two or three great saves early on as Barnsley dictated the play. Jim O’Brien and David Perkins were bossing the midfield areas and making life hard for their counterparts. Butland saved Nathan Redmond’s skin after the winger needlessly gave the ball away in a dangerous position.
When Blues took the lead in the 39th minute, it was totally against the run of play. After a Rob Hall corner was cleared, Curtis Davies headed home the second ball. Credit to Clark for his honesty after the game, he admitted “we didn’t deserve to go ahead, it was totally against the run of play”.
The lead only lasted three minutes. Jonathan Greening blasted in Barnsley’s equaliser from outside the area. Disappointing for Blues, but deserved for the hosts. Greening came close again minutes later, but his effort flew wide.
Blues’ midfield struggled to get to grips with the first half, but were doing enough to stay in touch with the home side. Going in at the break level would be the ideal platform of which to build on.
The general feeling is that Blues only play well in one half. So if they could keep it tight and not fall behind, the second half may be there for the taking.
Rob Hall was causing all sorts of problems and his pace and trickery was giving the Barnsley defenders something to think about. The same could not be said about Redmond. The young winger was poor and was substituted for Chris Burke in the 52nd minute. The Scot has been a shadow of his former self this term, but battled away and had some joy. Redmond gave the centre halves Bobby Hassell and McNulty an easy ride. Burke at least, stretched them.
Perkins was replaced, to a ring of boo’s from the Oakwell support. Strange decision, he was arguably their best and most threatening player. Matty Done came on. And Craig Davies came on for Chris Dagnall.
After 71 minutes, the referee awarded Barnsley a penalty, Steven Caldwell was adjudged to have handled inside the box. Davies strutted towards the penalty spot and blasted an awful spot kick high over the bar towards the town centre. Let off for Blues and their 826 fans who had made the journey.
A series of free kicks and corners for both sides were the main source of danger. You felt that if there was a winner, it would be via a dead ball situation.
Blues had clearly read the script. A free kick awarded and Rob Hall’s superb ball in was met by the head of Davies for his third goal in two games. This was Hall’s best performance since joining on loan from West Ham, initially until January. Clark admitted after the game that he’d love to extend that.
With the home side back in the ascendancy, it was all about holding on for Blues. The forgotten man Morgaro Gomis was introduced in place of the impressive Hall.
After some half chances, the visitors did manage to hold on and take all three points. Could this be the start of a run? Who knows. With Bolton to come on Saturday, who were today beaten by Sheffield Wednesday and according to reports were absolutely dreadful, a win there would make for a prettier picture going into 2013.
This is Birmingham City though. Don’t get excited yet.
Blues ratings- Butland 7. Robinson 6. Caldwell 6. Davies 7. Hancox 6. Elliott 6. Redmond 5. Mullins 6. Reilly 6. *HALL 7. Zigic 6…SUBS USED- Burke 6. Gomis n/a.
Match report by Rob Wildey.