March 14, 2016 by Shane Ireland
By Shane Ireland
Birmingham City made the short trip back to St Andrew’s from Molineux with only a point in the bag, although on another day it could have been all three such was Blues’ dominant second-half performance.
The outcome of a goalless draw was the same as in Gary’s Rowett first game in charge of Blues back in November 2014, but this time around his side offered far more in attack than in the backs against the wall display last season.
Both Clayton Donaldson and Jon Toral wasted good opportunities before David Davis, who shone in a man-of-the-match display after signing a one-year contract extension, saw his powerful shot tipped over by Wolves’ Carl Ikeme.
Donaldson also had two penalty shouts – the first of which was more likely to result in a spot-kick – waved away by referee Darren Drysdale.
A three-point haul would have provided a huge boost to Blues’ play-off bid, but boss Rowett remains optimistic.
“It is still very much in the balance. There are a lot of teams up there and it is who can handle the pressure of having to win almost every game,” he said.
“I said at the start of the season that, if we can be in and around the play-offs with 10 games to go, then it would be an unbelievable achievement for us this season.
“We are and we haven’t been out of the top 10 all season. If we can get a result from our game in hand then we are probably one win away from getting in and around the top six.
“After the international break we have three home games in a week which I think will be decisive. There is still a lot of football to be played.”
Despite emerging as by far the better team after the break, Blues were the side put under more pressure in the first-half as Wolves started strongly.
Former Molineux goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak had to be alert to deny Conor Coady’s header from a corner, before the midfielder’s next attempt deflected off Jonathan Spector, forcing the stopper into a tougher save.
At the other end, the confident Davis provided the visitors’ most serious threat.
The 25-year old combined with Toral on the edge of the box but failed to get a telling effort away, then he shot from range and into the North Bank after a battling interception.
George Saville also saw his header comfortably gathered by Kuszczak as the opening period drew to a close and Blues took control.
The first chance of a pulsating second 45 minutes fell to the home side as Michal Zyro flashed a half-volley wide from 25 yards, but Blues had the better opportunities thereafter.
Jonathan Grounds advanced to the byline and after weighing up his options, the left-back squared the ball into the path of Clayton Donaldson, but a resolute Wolves defence managed to clear.
The away side went close again just moments later.
Toral collected a pass from David Cotterill and chose to slide the ball into the path of Jacques Maghoma, who rounded Ikeme but failed to get a shot away.
Donaldson was the focal point for the majority of Blues’ attacking endeavours and the Jamaican striker was again the target as Maghoma raced down the wing.
The winger crossed towards Donaldson but once more he was denied as Matt Doherty produced an inch-perfect challenge to deny a clear opening.
Rowett’s side remained in the ascendancy and continued to look like the only team that would break the deadlock.
Donaldson was sent clear by Toral and despite having an unobstructed view of Ikeme’s goal for the first time, he dragged his effort wide when he could have done better.
The frontman wasted a good opening, but Blues’ next chance was undoubtedly the best of the match.
Stephen Gleeson fired a volley back into a chaotic penalty area which fell to Toral, but the usually reliant Arsenal loanee saw his effort run agonisingly wide – to the shock of the sold-out away end.
Birmingham’s 2446-strong following may have thought that it simply wasn’t their side’s day by the time Davis produced a turn usually on offer from Toral, but their hopes were raised once more as he also unleashed a booming drive which was tipped over.
Blues had chances, as well as a couple of penalty shouts, to win the match but were left to rue their squandered opportunities as Drysdale called time on an energetic second-half.