February 24, 2013 by Made In Brum
Peterborough United 0-2 Blues.
Just how big was the game against Peterborough? Well, it was described as a six pointer, a must win. With Blues only gaining one point from two home games last week, a win and a good performance against The Posh was imperative. And after soaking up some pressure from Darren Ferguson’s strugglers, who have been much improved recently, winning their last two games comfortably before yesterday, Blues completed their mission.
It’s all doom and gloom isn’t it? Just one defeat in eight for Lee Clark’s men now, if only they could have shown this kind of consistency earlier in the season, yesterday may have been a game to push into the play-off’s, not to steer further away from the drop zone. Seven points separates Blues and third from bottom Wolves (who play today) and just ten behind sixth placed Brighton. If you still believe going down is a possibility, then the play-off’s have to be too, as we’re not that much worse off points wise from the top six than we are the bottom three. And it has to be said, the teams near the bottom are on form, the teams in and around the play-off’s are not… However, have Blues got it in them to go to places like Hull and get a win, especially after they were battered yesterday?
At London Road, Blues knew they’d be up against a very attack minded Peterborough who started strongly. Jack Butland came to Blues’ rescue with a splendid double save from Tommy Rowe and then Lee Tomlin’s follow-up. If Tony Pulis has watched Butland recently he will be rubbing his hands at a fine piece of business. Butland is, without a doubt, a top ‘keeper.
The home side, who lost george Boyd to Hull in midweek, will rue their missed chances as Chris Burke’s cross-shot was parried by Bobby Olejnik straight to Nikola Zigic who poked home from close range to put the visitors one goal to the good. Before this game, Clark confirmed that Marlon King would miss out through injury which was a worrying affair for Blues fans. But Peter Lovenkrands worked his socks off and Zigic did the business when needed, making King’s absence slightly easier.
Clark opted for a central midfield pairing of Callum Reilly and Jonathan Spector, the partnership that helped keep the middle of the park solid for the long overdue clean sheet against Sheffield Wednesday, and again yesterday, they gave a determined display to thwart most that The Posh could throw at them. Reilly was fortunate to escape a booking on a couple of occasions with tough tackles throughout the game, some of them seemed fair, others seemed a bit naughty. But one thing you can say about the young Brummie is he is never wanting for effort.
In the second half, the hosts were denied a penalty when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing went down after Mitch Hancox muscled his way to a bouncing through ball quicker than his challenger. The referee was quick to wave the appeals away. Almost instantly after, Lovenkrands whistled a header narrowly wide from Burke’s cross.
With former Blues boss Barry Fry an interested onlooker, Blues were starting to control the game, something we haven’t witnessed too often this season. Burke is very nearly back to his best, and proved a handful for the home side. Reilly was eventually booked and escaped an early bath after what seemed like an accidental clip of Kane Ferdinand’s heels, but that didn’t stop the Boro’ fans screaming for the red card. Replays show that the referee was spot on. That was the cue for Clark to replace him with Morgaro Gomis with quarter of an hour left to play.
The defence were solid and organised and clearly brimming with confidence. A clean sheet seemed like it would never come, but two in a row for Blues makes it six all season, more of what we could have done earlier in the campaign.
Blues are unbeaten away from home in 2013 and made sure of the points when Burke’s shot took a deflection off Gabriel Zakuani and looped over the ‘keeper. It was a deserved second and topped off Burke’s fine afternoon. In the 83rd minute, Zigic slid the ball into the net, but was flagged offside by the linesman. And late on, substitute Wes Thomas headed straight at the ‘keeper after Zigic nodded across goal, that really should have been the icing on the cake.
Blues ratings- Butland 8. Caddis 7. Caldwell 7. Davies 7. Hancox 7. *BURKE 8. Spector 7. Reilly 7. Elliott 6. Zigic 7. Lovenkrands 7… SUBS USED- Gomis 6. Thomas 6. Mullins n/a.
Match report by Rob Wildey.