Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Home and Away

The nose-bleed territory of fourteenth in the table was reached by Birmingham City on Saturday, following their 2-0 away win against Bournemouth.

The victory marked the team's third win away from home on the bounce, making it six games unbeaten in the Championship for Blues. Despite dropping down one place the day later after Wigan's win against Bolton, spirits are high in the Birmingham camp, following a nervy start to the season in what has been deemed as a relegation battle for Blues from the off.

However recent results have pushed Lee Clark's men slowly up the standings and in order to put further daylight between themselves and the relegation trap door, Blues are going to have to start replicating their impressive away form back at St. Andrew's, a place which has only seen two league wins all season. 

Performances on their home turf have been exceedingly lacklustre; chalking up four losses already at what used to be renowned as 'fortress St. Andrew's' where not so long ago the Midlands side completed an impressive twelve months unbeaten at home.

The fortress now resembles a mere sandcastle, and Blues go into Saturday's game against Nottingham Forest desperate to pick up three points at home, in what would be their first league victory at their Midlands base since 1st October, when they embarrassed Millwall by four goals to nil.

But Forest, who sit just one point outside the play-offs despite winning only once in their last five games, will be looking to take advantage of Blues' questionable home form, and return to the East Midlands with points a plenty for their promotion push.

It's a real head-scratcher trying to figure out just where it goes wrong for Clark and his team at St. Andrew's. Although goals were pinpointed as the problem at the beginning of the season, that can't be said as much now, having scored nine goals in their previous five games.

The defence too has impressed greatly. Darren Randolph, man of the match at the Goldsands Stadium on Saturday, has pulled off multiple astute performances between the sticks, whilst his defence in front of him have put their bodies on the line on plenty of occasions this season; with Paul Robinson and Kyle Bartley standing out of late. The latter is also making an impact at the other end of the pitch as the club's second top goal scorer on five goals, just behind Jesse Lingard who has netted six times since joining the club on loan at the end of September.

Confidence and team spirit should not be a problem either, with the full time celebrations in Bournemouth showing just how tight-knit this group of player are; a far cry from last season, where many accused Clark of having lost the dressing room.

As the seasons reaches its half-way point, Blues need to be looking at creating an even larger gap between themselves and the drop zone and with games coming thick and fast over the festive period it gives them ample chances to chalk up the points.

Hopefully they can continue to push towards the top half of the table, which seemed an unrealistic aim when the season began. Clark and his team will have to put their heads together and solve the St. Andrew's puzzle first however, with the weekend a fine opportunity to do so and to continue their recent run of results.

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