Monday, 31 October 2011

Unbeaten Blues

The last time a Birmingham City team won six games in a row was back in 2001, the year we were promoted to the Premier League for the first time, a feat that, after the turmoil of the Summer, would be nothing short of spectacular. But could they make it a famous seven wins in a row? Newly promoted side Brighton and Hove Albion were the team to stand in the way of tallying up yet another straight victory, and they proved a stern test for Chris Hughton’s charges who picked up a point after a well-battled contest.

From the off, Brighton, a superb passing outfit, got in the faces of Birmingham City. Their tight marking and their quick closing down limited Birmingham’s chances. Kicking towards the Tilton Road End for the first half, Blues’ first chance came courtesy of Marlon King who’s shot, after Brighton failed to clear the ball, went just wide of the post. Brighton’s defence had to hold tight for most of the first half, with Chris Burke again getting down the wing to cause Gus Poyet’s side a number of problems. But credit must be go the away side, who contained both Burke and Jean Beausejour, meaning the usual service for the front pairing was limited.

The game was stopped and started by a referee who pulled up players for minor issues, subsequently meaning Jean Beausejour picked up his fifth booking of the season meaning he won’t be available for selection in the next league game.

Brighton stepped it up a gear in the second half and amongst the legs the defence, for the second game in a row, can come out with all the plaudits. Curtis Davies and Steven Caldwell in particular handled the Brighton attack splendidly, and with routine saves made by Boaz Myhill they ensured that they kept another clean sheet. Keeping Craig Mackail-Smith under wraps is something for any defence to be proud of.

And so, after a scary momeny when Brighton werwe awarded a late freekick, Blues finished the game still unbeaten and still without conceding a league goal since the beginning of October. That's the first time Blues have failed to score this season but still means that they have gone eight without defeat, and up next it’s back to the Europa League against Club Brugge KV, where a last minute winner sealed victory at the Jan Breydel Stadium thanks to Chris Wood back in October. Interestingly, since Blues beat the Belgium outfit they have lost their next three games; losing 2-1 to Kortrijk, being defeated by Gent on penalties in the cup, and most recently losing 5-4 to rivals Genk after leading 4-2 at one point in the game. After a superb start to the season Blues seemed to be the catalyst for disaster for Brugge and manager Adrie Koster was, yesterday, relieved of his duties. Hopefully this blip for Brugge will be exactly what Blues need who, sitting at the top of Group H, are in prime position to qualify for the knock out stages of the Europa League. In front of a near sell-out crowd at St. Andrews, hopefully we will still be unbeaten come full time on Thursday evening.

Full Time: BLUES 0-0 Brighton
Goal Scorers: N/A
Star Man: Curtis Davies; a rock in defence
Next Up: Club Brugge KV away - Europa League

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