Barnsley inquest

By Chris Quinn on Sep 22, 12 08:59 PM in Birmingham City FC

That's not much else that could have gone wrong for Blues today.

From the offset, we were without a recognised right-back, a problem that extended to the other side of the pitch when David Murphy went off injured. Ambrose replaced Murphy and Jonathon Spector slotted in at left-back as Blues' defensive woes continued.

However, pairing Ambrose with Keith Fahey, who was making his first start of the season after spending all summer injured, always felt like a risky move as neither seemed to have the legs to break up Barnsley's midfield passing.

But who else could we have brought on? Curtis Davies was our only recognised defender on the bench, so moving Spector was the obvious choice. Replacing him with Ravel Morrison would not have made any difference to replacing him with Ambrose. Morrison lacks the tactical discipline and defensive nous to play in a two-man midfield alongside someone like Fahey, who is not a destroyer. Therefore, Ambrose getting the nod due to his experience was probably the right call. But as we can see, at the moment, we have to fit square pegs into round holes and it is badly affecting our performances.

That said, even a patchwork side like the one we fielded should have been able to defend better than we did today.

After a first-half that saw us indebted to Jack Butland for a string of superb saves, Blues came out showing nothing more in terms of intent to attack and peg back the visitors. A sliced Spector clearance lead to a cheap corner for Barnsley and Steve Foster was left with a tap-in from the resultant corner after Marlon King and Mullins both missed the scuffed delivery and Ibanez was caught the wrong-side of the Tykes' centre-back.

Then, just three minutes later, Steven Caldwell, who has looked a shadow his former self this campaign, fires a suicidal pass into the feet of Ambrose who is facing his own goal 25 yards out. Granted, Ambrose's touch is not the greatest and he is then easily dispossessed by Mellis who set up Davies to score, but why is he been given the ball in an area where two Barnsley players are pressing?

That goal lead to a tactical swap as Nathan Redmond replaced Hayden Mullins, who was pathetically cheered off the pitch by the fans. Redmond immediately went to play in behind King and Leroy Lita and Blues went to a flat back three in search of a goal to drag themselves back into the game.

In an attempt to press the game, Blues pushed higher up the pitch, but this left them exposed to counter-attacks and with Caldwell and Ibanez not being the quickest, Davies soon exposed them again as he notched his second - easily twisting and turning the Blues pair inside out before firing home under no pressure.

That high-line was again breached moments later as Spector played the boyhood Blues fan onside and Davies nutmegged Butland to seal his hat-trick.

Then Redmond, lauded by the supporters as our saviour, epitomised Blues' day. Playing by now in a left wing-back role, he allowed a throw-in down the Tykes' right to bounce twice and then be crossed by Dagnall with no real intention of closing the striker down and Davies nodded in his fourth.

Coming to the Tilton at the end of the game looking upset, applauding the fans and shaking your head in disbelief means nothing when you come on as a substitute and refuse to close down your man, no matter what the scoreline.
Blues' cause was not helped by Ibanez having to limp off with Clark having already used his three substitutions and King playing the last ten minutes with what seemed to be a hamstring injury.

But, as the manager has said countless times this campaign, Blues are not "shooting ourselves in the foot, we're blowing our leg off". Clark has taken the brunt of the abuse for the defeat post-match, but that allows the players, who gave up with half-an-hour to play, off the hook too easily.


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Abhiram Shivakumar said:

Yeah. I thought the same. It was too risky to pair up Keith Fahey and Ambrose. After his injury in the summer, the long break in his career must have affected him badly. He is out of form. And Spectors should have been replaced with Ravel Morrison. microsoft help desk software for Windows 7

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Martin Laurence

Martin Laurence is a lifelong Aston Villa fan, statistical analyst and editor-in-chief at My Posts

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Chris Quinn is a journalism graduate who has been a season ticket holder at Birmingham City for 10 years. My Posts

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