It wasn't a tragic first half performance, not at all, but not one you'd expect in the first leg of a Carling Cup semi-final. We played 4-5-1 which was frustrating but understandable. McLeish likes to contain and then go for it, which I do understand but then again on the flip side of things maybe we should have just gone for it and went 4-4-2 with Jerome and Derbyshire starting; with Jerome's pace and Derbyshire's knack for finding the back of the net, surely we couldn't have gone wrong?
In the past our defence has been rock solid. Last season a lot of teams struggled to get past out back five, but this season it's not been as good. The first goal we conceded highlighted this. The ball should have been cleared, Ridgewell probably should have been alert, and maybe Foster shouldn't have been beaten at his near post.
But there's no use dwelling on what could have been. In the second half Blues gave us the performance we'd all paid our money to travel down to London to see. God only knows what Alex said to them in the dressing room at half time but it certainly worked; we came out a different team and really took it to West Ham.
Blues started the half incredibly brightly and Larsson, who seems to be staying at Blues now, had a great game down the right with Carr and they both ran West Ham ragged. Hleb also had a good game, dancing through the defence whenever he pleased but my only criticism of him is that sometimes he tries to do too much. Other than that, he honestly is a joy to watch.
With free kicks, corners and crosses and most of all possession all in favour of Blues, it really was only a matter of time before the equaliser came. I cannot tell you how much relief and elation was felt amongst the travelling Blues fans at that header from Ridgewell all but broke the back of the net, and for the next 15 minutes the noise coming from the away end was terrific. It was brilliant to be part of it.
We really should have clinched a winner, especially after Obinna was sent off, but yet again our lack of clinical finishing was what let us down. That, and poor defending - which was what led to both the goals... and of course that blunder by Foster which we don't want to mention.
In a perfect world we would have grabbed an equaliser with the amount of chances we had after West Ham, pretty undeservedly, went ahead again. But it wasn't to be, and now we have to win at St. Andrews to stand a chance of getting to Wembley. It can be done, of course it can: we have a brilliant home record and West Ham have a pretty shambolic away record. It won't be easy, but then again, when is it ever easy supporting Blues?
Full Time: West Ham 2-1 Birmingham City