Sunday, 6 February 2011

Not the prettiest, but we don't care

Right now none of us care how the points come. It'd be nice to secure them in a superb attacking fashion, but we're in a relegation battle; not a Europa League push. Right now, a goal is a goal and a win is a win - however they may come - and today was a very big win indeed.

In a real relegation 6 pointer after Wolves and Wigan winning yesterday, the aim of today was simple for both teams: win. Both teams therefore started quite edgy and nervous, neither side willing to sacrifice too many men going forward in fear of being cut open at the back, but at the same time neither wanted to play too defensive, so both managers opted for a strong 4-4-2 formation.

It was West Ham who enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, which was the be expected from a Blues point of view. However both teams had their fair share of chances, with Victor Obinna looking lively yet again for the Hammers and Bentley working his magic down the wing, but neither really got any clear cut chances for their side. The home side had the better of the chances, but great defensive work for Blues yet again, especially from Roger Johnson (are you watching Fabio?) kept the away side level going into half time, after West Ham had edged the first forty-five.

With inspiring second half performances from the last few games, Blues were looking to do the same again in the second half of this game, and started fairly brightly. It was still an end to end encounter though, and both teams were desperately trying to find an opening.

Seeing more of the game now, Blues came close with Zigic heading just wide at the far post, and that was enough for McLeish to decide to change things. He took off Jerome - who still looks less than match fit - and brought on Sebastian Larsson. And that proved to be the tuning moment of the game. The Swede looked incredibly lively when he came on, and moments after the inspired substitution came the break through. Blues were awarded to free-kicks in succession, and the second proved to be the most costly for West ham, as the substitute Larsson whipped in a brilliant ball which was headed in from a couple of yards out by Zigic for Birmingham to take the lead.

The crowed grew anxious and it was a nervy last 20 minutes for both teams; Blues not wanting to squander their lead, and West ham not wanting to concede another. The home side threw plenty at Blues in the closing stages, with ineffective strike pair Piquionne and Keane coming off to be replaced by goal-poacher Carlton Cole and new boy Demba Ba, they were aching for an equaliser. And Ba almost made an instant impact, hitting the post after the ball had gone loose in the area.

But Blues stood strong and managed to hold on to an important victory, which took them out of the relegation zone. It wasn't the prettiest of games, it was a real nervous encounter between two teams desperate for points. But Blues showed character and prevailed, and got the much needed three points with only their second away win of the season.

p next we have three winnable home games against Stoke, Newcastle and manager-less West Brom, and sandwiched between those games are the FA Cup game and the small matter of a Carling Cup final to contend with. But pack St. Andrews out, get behind the boys because we can really push on and stay up now. Keep Right On!

Full Time: West Ham United 0-1 Birmingham City

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