August 10, 2016 by Shane Ireland
By Kane Styles
Blues bowed out of the EFL Cup with a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to newly-promoted League One side Oxford United.
Gary Rowett fielded a strong lineup, with Robert Tesche, Maikel Kieftenbeld and Michael Morrison all starting for Blues.
Blues’ first chance of the game came in the 7th minute, where veteran Paul Robinson could only volley over from a set-piece. Robinson didn’t look out of place last night, his performance was a spirited one and he hardly gave substitute Kane Hemmings a kick in the second-half.
Former Blues-man Wes Thomas started for the visitors, but his return to St.Andrews was cut short by injury early in the first-half .
Gary Rowett was full of praise for Oxford keeper’ Simon Eastwood who made a series of good saves to deny Blues in the first-half. Viv Solomon Otabor burst into the final third but he blazed his effort comfortably wide, followed by Robert Tesche testing the palms of Eastwood from inside the 18-yard-box and having a powerful drive from long distance parried by the United stopper.
Blues’ best chance of the half fell to James Vaughan. The striker found himself 8-yards-out but his left-footed attempt was denied by the onrushing Eastwood.
Moving into the second half, Oxford went close to taking the lead when Maguire cut inside from the left and his low-effort was heading for the corner only for Legzdins to make a solid save. Oxford also hit the post towards the dying-stages of the game but it was narrowly ruled out for offside.
Blues made changes in the second half. Gleeson, Maghoma and Donaldson all came on but failed to make any real impact. The most overwhelming concern all Blues fans have at the moment is the lack of cutting-edge we have in the final third. Maghoma often finds himself in good positions on the left-wing but that final end-product is what he often lacks. It’s often the same story for Donaldson, his hold-up play and work ethic can be second-to-none but again when through on goal he lacks that killer instinct that we so desperately need. Here’s to hoping that new recruit Che Adams can be the man to solve this issue.
Once the game moved into extra-time, Robert Tesche was the closest Blues came to scoring when his 20-yard free-kick was tipped-over. Robert Tesche looked decent on the night, his composure and obvious quality showed at times. Oxford thought that they had nicked it, when Hemmings’ volley was in the back of the net, only for it to be chalked off for offside.
But Oxford did find a winner, in the final minute of extra-time where Liam Sercombe took full advantage of Adam Legzdins’ mistake. The Blues keeper’ rushed out of his goal in an attempt to punch the ball clear of danger, but he misjudged it and Sercombe headed in to the open-net.
A disappointing night for Blues, who travel to Elland Road on Saturday. Rowett is unbeaten in his two visits to Leeds, Birmingham won the last encounter there 2-0.
Blues still need new faces, with two or three expected to arrive.