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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Birmingham City 1 Rovers 1

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Birmingham City (1) 1 – 1 (0) Blackburn Rovers
Morrison 42 Rhodes 66
Referee: A. D'Urso Attendance: 18,979

The curtain finally came down on the 2012–13 season in fairly languid fashion at St. Andrew's. In a typical end-of-season affair, with nothing at stake for either side, the players were happy to play out a game which, although entertaining at times, lacked the intensity that one normally expects of Championship football.

The heavy rain on the way down to Birmingham had given way to brilliant sunshine by the time both teams took to the field. Gary Bowyer opted to make one change from the eleven that started against Crystal Palace with Morten Gamst Pedersen replacing Nuno Gomes, who dropped to the bench.

There was the normal end-of-season mood at St. Andrew's with both sets of supporters having little to celebrate in terms of achievement. Birmingham's hopes of a place in the play-offs had long gone and they seem to be a club in transition as Lee Clark opts to build a future around a promising group of young players. The Rovers, of course, had endured one of the most difficult seasons in their long and illustrious history and most fans were just grateful that the club had avoided accompanying Wolves into League One. Nonetheless, despite the disappointments, both sets of fans gave their players a warm reception at the end of the game.

The home side began the game in attacking mode and within the first minute they had carved out a decent opportunity. The towering Nikola Zigic laid the ball off to Morgaro Gomis, but his shot went narrowly wide.

Nathan Redmond, who produced some sparkling play on the left wing, had a shot saved by Grzegorz Sandomierski, whilst Paul Caddis and Zigic both sent efforts wide of the target. Indeed, Zigic might have worked himself a superb opening, but his attempts to control the ball on his chest, when clear of the defenders, was poor and the ball ran away for a goal-kick.

The Rovers struggled to make much impression during the early stages as an attacking force. The main threat came down the left flank with Josh Morris and Joshua King linking up well. However, despite some promising runs by both players the Rovers were unable to make much capital out of them.

Rhodes almost made something out of nothing when he latched onto a poor back-pass, but Jack Butland just about got to the ball first. At the other end the lively Redmond forced Sandomierski into action and the Polish international did well to get down and push the Birmingham man's shot away to safety.

As the half seemed to be drifting to a stalemate, Birmingham found the net just three minutes before the break. Ravel Morrison picked up the ball on the edge of the area, skipped past a couple of indifferent challenges and then fired hard and low into the far corner of the net.

Gary Bowyer was forced to make a change at the interval as Lee Williamson was unable to continue after receiving a couple of hefty knocks during the first half. Cameron Stewart replaced him and took up a berth on the right wing.

Birmingham began the second period in much the same way as they had the first with Redmond causing all sorts of problems down the left wing. However, the home side were unable to capitalise and gradually the Rovers started to be seen more and more as an attacking force.

David Jones and Pedersen began to gain more possession in the centre of midfield, while Stewart and King increasingly caused both full-backs problems with their direct style of running. A curling free-kick from Jones hit the top of the crossbar as the Rovers stepped up their search for an equaliser.

On 66 minutes the Rovers equalised with a goal which began with a long throw from Pedersen. Grant Hanley flicked the ball on and Jones stormed in to head the ball goalwards. Butland managed to save, but the ball rebounded into the path of Jordan Rhodes, who headed home from close range.

The Rovers had cause to thank Sandomierski for keeping the scores level when he was forced to dive bravely at the feet of Zigic. However, the game ebbed away in typical end-of-season fashion with neither side really prepared to do enough to win the game.

Bowyer took the opportunity to blood John O'Sullivan, the outstanding midfield player in this season's under-21 side, and the Republic of Ireland youth and under-21 international was quick to make his mark with a couple of feisty challenges. Indeed, the youngster might have got on the scoresheet, but, after an effort from Stewart was blocked and fell to him, the youngster's attempt was deflected wide off a defender.

A draw was a fair result and the point was sufficient to take the Rovers to 58 points and a seventeenth-place finish. The Rovers ended the season four points clear of the relegation zone and ten points adrift of the play-off places.

Once again, Grzegorz Sandomierski impressed between the posts. On the evidence of what we have seen thus far he would make a useful addition to the squad on a permanent basis. But, like so many decisions that need to be made, one suspects that it will be put on hold until the owners make a decision with regard to the manager.

Todd Kane was another loanee to make his final appearance and, once again, he produced a lively performance both in defence and in attack. Josh Morris had a difficult start to the game but grew into it and in the second half was able to devote more time to supporting the attack.

Grant Hanley and Scott Dann had a fairly comfortable afternoon and neither player seemed overly stretched. Both looked strong in the tackle and powerful in the air and again underlined what a good partnership they are forming.

David Jones, Lee Williamson and Morten Gamst Pedersen performed soundly in the centre of midfield. The Rovers never looked likely to be overrun in this area and all three were able to get forward at times and cause the opposition problems. Pedersen and Jones whipped in some dangerous corners which, on another day, might have been converted. Williamson worked tirelessly until he had to succumb to a couple of knocks he received during the first half.

David Goodwillie again occupied a place on the right-hand side of midfield, but, in truth, the Scottish international struggled to make much impact on the game. He worked hard but was wasteful in possession. Joshua King looked a threat during the early stages using his pace on the left. However, all too often his dangerous runs came to nothing and in the second half he saw less and less of the ball.

Jordan Rhodes again popped up with a poacher's instinct in front of goal to grab the equaliser. However, he struggled to make much headway against a strong Birmingham defence and yet again, in an away match, looked ill at ease with the role of lone striker. One can't fault his work-rate, but if he remains at the club next season, there will have to be a rethink about how to make him more effective in terms of the build-up play in away matches.

Cameron Stewart enjoyed a better forty-five minutes than of late and looked quite dangerous running at the Birmingham defence, but his crosses were not always the most accurate. John O'Sullivan got his first taste of first-team action and didn't look out of place. The young Republic of Ireland midfield player has enjoyed another good season with the under-21s and will hopefully step up to the senior squad next season.

Gary Bowyer, ably assisted by Terry McPhillips and Tony Grant, has done an excellent job in keeping the club in the Championship and the players have clearly responded to him.

However, what happens next is anybody's guess. Venky's have some big decisions to make in the coming days and, as we know only too well, making decisions is not something they are particularly good at. If the club is to progress, a decision needs to be taken about the manager and then a decision needs to be taken about the boardroom. Whatever they decide they cannot allow the club to continue as it has done for the past twelve months. A divided boardroom and a revolving door to the manager's office is not the way forward. One would hope that this lesson will have been learnt, but, then again, this is Venky's — the people who admitted to being confused last season and who now acknowledge that their club is out of control. It is vital that the owners move quickly and put a structure in place that will finally take the club forward. Sadly, their past performance hardly fills one with confidence that they are capable of making any decisions, let alone the right ones.


Birmingham City

Jack Butland; Paul Caddis, Curtis Davies, Paul Robinson, Shane Ferguson; Chris Burke, Ravel Morrison, Morgaro Gomis (Callum Reilly 73), Wade Elliott, Nathan Redmond; Nikola Zigic
Subs not used: Colin Doyle (gk), Steven Caldwell, Hayden Mullins, Koby Arthur, Akwasi Asante, Olly Lee
Manager: Lee Clark

Blackburn Rovers

Grzegorz Sandomierski; Todd Kane, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Josh Morris; David Goodwillie (John O'Sullivan 76), Lee Williamson (Cameron Stewart 46), David Jones, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Joshua King; Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Matthew Urwin (gk), Gael Givet, Nuno Gomes, Karim Rekik, David Bentley
Caretaker Manager: Gary Bowyer


Birmingham City – None

Blackburn Rovers – None

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