It feels like de ja vu watching Birmingham City at the moment. We dominate the first half, sometimes sneak a goal but, ultimately, we can’t keep the pace up going into the second half and, like we saw yesterday evening at Selhurst Park; we often get punished.
It wasn’t a lack of on the ball action last night that saw us lose. The possession stats in the first half showed that we were on top; at one time we had over 70% possession. We just failed to do anything of note when we had the ball, rarely troubling Julian Speroni in the Crystal Palace net.
Playing a 4-5-1 formation didn’t aid our goal-mouth action either. Marlon King was crowded out of the game and as a result mustered only a few shots on target throughout the game. Creative winger Nathan Redmond was also shadowed out the game by a terrific performance from Nathaniel Clyne; a former Birmingham City target now being linked with Manchester United no less.
In the end it was a tale of whose defence would hold out and be the most resilient. The most threatening team were the home side, who put Boaz Myhill into action with a tantalizing shot from Mile Jedinak which the Welsh shot stopper was thankfully equal to. David Murphy also made a perfectly timed last ditch tackle to prevent Clyne, who was through on goal, from putting his side ahead. With less possession, Palace were definitely taking more of their chances than Blues.
But that’s not to say we didn’t calve openings ourselves. We had plenty of corners where, with the tall frames of Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell and Guirane N’Daw, we should have troubled the Palace defence more than we actually did. The best chance came from a corner taken from the left; N’Daw flicked it towards the goal and Davies only had to get a slight touch on the ball from yards out to score. Instead he got a heavy foot to it, sending it to row Z and beyond.
But it was Palace who, after threatening from set pieces throughout the game, broke the deadlock with less than ten minutes of play remaining. Darren Ambrose’s cross was met by an unmarked Kagisho Dikgacoi whose header beat Myhill found the top of the net.
Another disappointing outing for Hughton’s men who, for all the possession they had failed to create anything to severely trouble Speroni in the Palace net. With West Ham up next Blues need to up their game in front of goal: the fans don’t want to witness another performance full of first half promise and second half failure.