Birmingham City’s magnificent nine match unbeaten run came to an unfortunate end yesterday afternoon, losing by one goal to nil at the Madejski Stadium. After creating enough chances to score but failing to convert them, Blues were undone by a Noel Hunt goal just fifteen minutes from time and were unable to fight back to earn a point – or all three – against a strong Reading side; meaning that they fell to their first defeat in all competitions since losing 2-0 against Manchester City in the Carling Cup in September.
As the song says, ‘though you’re tired and weary, still journey on’ but ten games unbeaten seemed a bridge too far for Blues. Yet, who would have thought at the beginning of the season, with the squad Hughton had assembled and the shoe string budget, we would have gone nine games unbeaten? Although going into the international break off the back of a win would have been favourable; the break has come at the best time for Hughton and his side who now have the time to re-group, and take a well-earned rest ahead of the busy Winter schedule coming up after the two week break.
Facing Peterborough and Burnley at St. Andrews upon their return to league action, Hughton then takes his team on four away trips: Blackpool, an important Europa league tie against Braga midweek, followed by trips to first Cardiff and then Hull City. He will need every single squad member at his disposal with no easy games, especially with the Europa League game against Braga which, with three teams at the top of the group all on seven points, is extremely important if we stand any chance of qualifying.
It’s been an interesting season so far for Birmingham. A shaky start has been more than evened out and Blues are now in the top half with three games in hand on the majority of their rivals. Hopefully the international break proves to be a successful healing period for Hughton’s charges; and that they come out all guns blazing when they return to both Championship and Europa League action.