The diamond that caught Ian Holloway out when we played them at St. Andrews came back to haunt him and from the off Blues had numerous chances to go ahead, with Derbyshire inches away from latching onto a good ball placed temptingly across the goal mouth. Cameron Jerome also had a couple of good chances, and it was clear we had come here to fight and to, most importantly, win.
The attack-minded formation was working for McLeish's men against a side that love to attack, but unfortunately for them this means they get caught on the break easier. With that in mind, Blues could have easily been winning from minute one, and throughout the first half we had the bulk of the possession and the bulk of the chances; and the opener for the away side came after 24 minutes. Defender Stephen Crainey made an awful mistake which gave Hleb the perfect opportunity to take the ball from right under the nose of the defender and run a few yards before calmly looping the ball over the head of Richard Kingson. After being under fire of some Blues fans after his, shall we say, misunderstood comments prior to the Arsenal match; but I think it's safe to say all was forgotten when he scored and reeled off in celebration with a big smile on his face.
Blues continued to dominate much of the first half, and while Blackpool threatened, the defence and Ben Foster - who had an excellent game - did enough to stop the home side from equalising, and went into the break a goal to the good and most importantly, half way to an important three points in this season's relegation battle.
It was clear as soon as the second half started what Holloway had said in his half time team talk: score a goal. And that's just what Blackpool set out to do. Now it was Blues on the back foot and Blackpool on the up. Ben Foster earned his wages in this half saving a wave of shots that came his way, the most impressive of the lot probably being from Charlie Adam's 20 yard effort was palmed away by the Blues number one, who has been saviour for his team so many times this season most if not all of us have lost count.
After a wave of Blackpool attacks it was Blues' turn to counter. Larsson, who ha been substituted on moments before, fed the ball through to Cameron Jerome, who dinked the ball over Kingson but was denied only by the post: will the man ever score?! This miss prooved to be vital though, as just minutes later the resiliant Blues back-line were eventually beaten, but as just as determined Blackpool strike-force. With 68 minutes on the clock, Gary Taylor-Fletcher nodded down a cross into the Blackpool box which fell to ex-Blue DJ Campbell, who volleyed past Ben Foster and unto the net. Although it was a knock for Blues, the only thing that made it easier to watch was the muted celebration from the man who helped us to promotion in 06/07; a great sign of respect from a great little player.
With the goal to boost their confidence, Blackpool were now in search of a winner, however the open nature of the game made it hard to see just which team was going to come out on top. It was exciting end to end stuff, and a joy for any natural to watch; but it was hearts in mouths time for both Blackpool and Blues fans as the game edged closer to full time. And, thankfully for us, it was Blues who came out winners. Beausejour's cross was nodded across the box by Roger Johnson, and Scott Dann controlled and finished almost Kevin Phillips-like, sending the travelling fans and the rest of the team into a frenzy!
First away with on the season; first double of the season; and most importantly, three points to add to the total and to help us climb up the table ever so slightly. We're not out of the mire by a long way yet, but this game could really give us the boost we need. Well done Blues.
Full Time: Blackpool 1-2 Birmingham City