The pristine pitch helped with the style of play Chris Hughton has introduced to the new-look Birmingham side, whom kept the ball on the ground for the majority of the game, more than delighting a crowd of over 19,000 at St. Andrews. The 4-5-1 formation that was utilized far too often by Alex McLeish was used again by Hughton today, however due to a striker crisis he can definitely be excused. Chris Wood began as the lone striker today with Adam Rooney on the bench, alongside Scott Dann who is presumably being wrapped up in cotton wool to prevent injury after interest from Arsenal during the week.
Blues began at a steady pace, with their first goal-scoring opportunity coming just minutes into the game when Morgao Gomis had his shot blocked by the Coventry defence after an impressive run by Chris Burke and a quick lay-off by lone striker Wood. Continuing to press, Blues kept the ball on the deck and the St. Andrews faithful looked on, enjoying the flowing football being played out in front of them.
After conceding two goals last week, Boaz Myhill more than made up for it with his performance this afternoon with impressive first half saves, most notably from Sammy Clingan’s freekick with half an hour played, and then from former blue Gary McSheffrey let rip a powerful shot which was again saved by Myhill in the Blues goal.
Although Blues seemed to be able to create chances, there was a clear inability to finish said chances, and many players seemed scared to shoot when presented the opportunity, and so the two teams went in at the break with a clean sheet.
As the second half got underway Chris Wood was presented the best chance of the game so far when Jean Beausejour sent in a low, hard ball which bounced unforgivingly for Wood who slid in and watched in agony as the ball flew over the goal. From here Blues became livelier, with Stephen Carr and Burke linking up well on the right hand side and causing problems for Coventry’s defence, who had up until now been able to cope with the attacking threat presented by Blues.
Morgaro Gomis produced what the Blues fans had been willing their players to do throughout the game –a shot on the edge of the area. However, Joe Murphy in the Coventry net was able to save the powerful shot. With Blues on the up, Hughton made his first – and only – change of the game, keeping the 4-5-1 formation and replacing Wood with Adam Rooney, who impressed instantly, chasing down the ball and aiming to close the Coventry defence down.
Moments later, Birmingham got the breakthrough they had been hoping for thanks to substitute Rooney. Liam Ridgewell launched in a cross which Rooney met with his head and the ball agonizingly hit the post, with many Blues fans thinking Rooney had broken the deadlock.Nevertheless, quick thinking allowed the Irishman to turn and place the ball into the path of Keith Fahey, who made no mistake in blasting the ball home on 72 minutes to give his side the lead, more than making up for a couple of errors made earlier in the game by the Republic of
Blues saw the rest of the game out rather comfortably and put their first points of the season on the board. Although there was slight reluctance in front of goal, no one can be too disheartened about three points, a clean sheet and an impressive display by all. Just like you need to win your home games in the Premier League to survive relegation, in the Championship it is equally important to be beating as many teams as possible at home to keep up form in an unforgiving league.
Goal Scorers: Fahey (72)
Star Man: Stephen Carr - defender come winger, this is the man who we plucked from retirement
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