I never thought I’d actually fear Blues going to Barnsley, but this is the a new world we live in and everything that was once normal is now the complete opposite, minus Blues being in a relegation dogfight in the championship.
It was a tough task that Blues had to face, Barnsley won the previous 6 and were looking for a record number 7 to keep themselves in the shout of a play-off spot at the end of the season – remarkable for a side who just about stayed up on the last game of the season last year…
I didn’t expect a pretty match of football and it felt like one of those games where Blues would look to disrupt Barnsley as much as they could, whilst trying to nick something to take back home.
Karanka opted for the ever popular 3-5-2 approach; George Friend, Scott Hogan, Yan Valery and Gary Gardner, the four drafted in after the midweek draw against fellow strugglers Huddersfield.
As soon as the first ball was kicked it was strikingly obvious what was going to be on display for this afternoon, it was like a back and fourth rally of headers for the most part and really devoid of any sort of quality. There was also very little chances coming from either side, the only most notable fell to Blues inside the first 5 minutes. A free kick delivered by Gardner which was met by Dean with a free header at the near post, but it flashed wide of the post and was probably a big sign of things to come for Blues.
I’d like to say I’m trying my best to make this as detailed as I possibly can, but in reality that was all I could actually write about in terms of any sort of goal mouth action. There was also a moment where Etheridge cannoned the ball off Dean’s head whilst he was on the deck, that was quite funny too.
Both sides went in level and it was very much deserved with the lack of quality on display. Karanka probably the happier of the two, given Barnsley’s recent run of form and rise up the league.
The second half came and just like that the game was gone. A complete balls up at the back (I’m sure I’ve written that before), which saw Dean volley the ball off Valery’s face, instead of laying off a simple pass, lead to Barnsley receiving the ball on the break and played the ball out wide to Dike, who hammered the ball into the top corner of Etheridge’s near post. He probably couldn’t strike a ball any better if he tried.
For me it was one of those games where Blues had to take the lead if they were ever going to come away with a win, because the way Barnsley play make it increasingly difficult to find a way back in once they’ve got the lead.
The changes came, but once again to no real avail. Bela showed glimpses of attacking intent , whilst Sanchez wasn’t really in the game until the very last kick. A further two changes were made as the game was petering out – Cosgrove finally back from injury and Leko (who I’m still not convinced by).
Blues did actually get a chance to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat and it was Iván Sanchez who I referred to earlier who had that opportunity. Bela drilled a ball across the six yard box and it landed to an unmarked Sanchez on his favoured foot, instead of drilling low and hard into the ground and across the keeper, he completely snatched at it and put it wide of the near post – if ever a moment summed up Birmingham City’s season, it was probably that.
Full time and Blues were beaten and that sinking feeling was amongst many again. Losing to Barnsley away is perhaps not the lowest point of this incredibly dire season, but it’s definitely another miserable Saturday afternoon that can be added to the list.
The games keep coming thick and fast and they aren’t going to get much easier, as we now play a few sides who are in or around the top six. If Blues do actually have any bottle and bollocks, now is the time to show it.
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