There seems to be some kind of unwritten rule when it comes to the Carling Cup, that Premier League teams must beat lower league opposition. They have to. Or it will be considered a total travesty and an embarrassment. But considering most Premier League teams play most of their reserve players in these Cup ties, I don’t see how losing against teams in a lower division is seen as something that just shouldn’t happen. If it’s not your team; we all find it brilliant when teams like Barsnley beat Liverpool, etc. But if it is your team; it’s like the end of the world.
Of corse that doesn’t matter; as Blues won 3-2 against Rochdale so this doesn’t have to come into the equation. But I just thought I’d throw that out there...
The match, which got better as it went on, started off quite dully. And although Blues attacked in force; they were quite predictable and not exactly full of ideas. The ball across the park to Murphy which was tried six times before we realised it was going to get cut off before it reached him is an example of this especially because that’s how Rochdale’s first goal came about. Murphy couldn’t get back in time and that left Jones to tap in the rebound after his first shot was saved by Maik Taylor, to the frustration of the small Blues crowd inside St. Andrews.
Blues were level though just three minutes later: Matt Derbyshire, making his first start for Blues, was brought down in the penalty area, and a couple of angry Rochdale players and a confused linesman later, the penalty was awarded and McFadden stepped up to slot it away expertly (Villa players, take note) and Blues were back on level terms.
McFadden showed his class in the first half, skipping past players, making a few great passes. Something you realise when you actually have time to concentrate on just one player, is how much they actually do. Moan all you like about James McFadden, use his as a scapegoat for pretty much everything; but that man is a class player, and there is no doubt about it. There’s been rumours about him being linked with a move away from the club, and if we were to lose him, it would be a big loss.
The second half saw Seb Larsson come on for McFadden, and Blues started very bright; attacking from the off. Seb was instantly involved as his corner found the head of Roger Johnson, which was tapped into the net to put Blues ahead, just a couple of minutes into the second half.
Blues looked much to dominant team then, and although Rochdale did have their chances, you could see the divide between the two. Matt Derbyshire had already showed how much of a handful he will be this season, and he was in the right place at the right time for his first Blues goal, after a Larsson shot was fumbled by the Rochdale ‘keeper, and bundled just about over the line by Derbyshire.
So, 3-1 and the game was pretty much over already. Blues had ample chances to extend their lead, with that man Derbyshire again coming close numerous times. He then made way for Nikola Zigic, who instantly set up O’Connor whose shot fired wide. But, with Blues seemingly comfortable, they were put back into panik-mode by Jones again as the Rochdale captain scored to make the last ten or so minutes slightly nervy for the home side.
Youngster Nathan Redmond made his first appearance for Blues and you could see why McLeish had put him on the bench a couple of times last season; he is not shot of confidence and is willing to take men on and get a shot off - coming close several times. It was refreshing to see that young talent can still break through , and hopefully we won’t let him slip through the net.
Blues hung on to win 3-2, when really it could’ve been more, to get their place in the next round of the cup. And although the game was an exciting encounter, I don’t think it’ll live very long in the memory of the 6,000 or so fans that were there!
Full Time: Birmingham City 3-2 Rochdale