Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Battling Blues

An intelligent defensive display saw Blues pick up a vital away point in their quest to survive another season in the Premier league and avoid the ever-present relegation trap door.

Blues began the game the brighter side, with Jerome heading close early on. There was bad news for both teams in the space of a minute as Arteta pulled up with a hamstring injury and a few seconds later Bentley signalled that something was wrong and he too had to come off - David Murphy coming on the field to replace him.

After a little pressure from Everton - namely a shot from Beckford which was saved by Ben Foster - Blues broke against the run of play and Jordan Mutch's expert cross found the head of Jean Beausejour who netted for the second time in two game.

Everton regained momentum after Blues look the lead and had chances of their own. Beckford had the perfect chance to equalise when the ball fell to him, however an air shot from him and some desperate defending from Carr and Foster saved Blues from conceding.

Eventually, Everton did manage to find the back of the net. Stephen Carr conceded a soft corner after being under pressure, and Osman swum the ball into the box. Cameron Jerome's failed clearance then set up Heitinga who let rip a fierce shot which found its way past Lee Bowyer on the line to make it one all just ten minutes before the break.

With Premier League games never without a contriversioal moment nowadays, this game saw referee Peter Walton book Jordon Mutch. With no yellow card. Instaid, he lifted his arm to the air, gesturing to Mutch that he was in fact being booked. Improvisation at its finest.

The second half started as the first half had ended, with the home side in ascendancy. As Birmingham struggled to get a foot hold in the game, Everton piled on the pressure - but for all the time on the ball they had, they couldn't get into goal scoring positions of any sort to convert that possession in to a much needed goal.

That was all thanks to the Blues defence who put their bodies on the line and their head in the way of everything in order to stop Everton from scoring and to prevent themselves dropping back into the relegation zone - as a point would see them leapfrog West Ham.

Although Blues swam against the tide for much of the second forty-five, they had have some chances. Jordon Mutch, who had an impressive game, let rip a 25 yard shot which went wide of Howard's post - and just before that he had been at the other end of the pitch, blocking a shot from Saha inside the box.

The battling performance from Blues, who absorbed all the pressure Everton put on them, made sure that they went away with a point which from an away game against a strong and professional side in Everton is a great point.

It's Bolton in the FA Cup on Saturday now and although in the quarter finals, I wouldn't blame McLeish if he rested some key players, especially with a lot of the team injured after their victorious Carling Cup exploits this season - after all, the league is our bread and butter, and our next Premier League game is a six pointer away to Wigan.

Full Time: Everton 1-1 Birmingham City

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