After a huge win on the weekend away at Hillsborough, Blues welcomed league leaders Norwich City to St. Andrews, where they were looking for their 2nd win at the stadium in a week – which would match the amount of wins Blues have in their own stadium this season. No pressure Blues.
For me this was a free-hit and an opportunity for Blues to go out and try and put a performance in to build on the confidence they’d have gained from the weekend. They came out the blocks well and looked to hassle and hurry Norwich high up the pitch, which is something we’ve had far better success with away from home this season.
Blues actually had the better of the opening 10 minutes and created a few half chances which were unfortunate not to amount to anything. In typical fashion though and against the run of play, a threaded ball into the path of Pukki was despatched from a tight angle and Norwich took the lead.
When Blues have gone a goal down this season, the reaction to follow it has always been key. Usually we see them go into their shells and completely collapse, however Blues were back on the front foot and trying to take the game to them. Sadly, it was another typical moment which saw Etheridge come to claim a loose ball after diving to the feet of Pukki and in result bring down the onrushing Cantwell, who of course made the most out of it, but a penalty it was. Etheridge had some making up to do and that he did, guessing the right way and pushing Pukki’s effort away from the goal.
Another few half chances came our way with Bela and later a long volleyed drive from Colin, which Hogan met on the rebound to head up and into Krul’s arms. It was frustrating for Blues, but nonetheless they were still very much in this game. The deserved goal did eventually come due to a mix up in the Norwich defence, Krul and Skipp messed around with it and Hogan picked up the ball, knocking it onto Gardner who poked it through to Sanchez to shoot, who had to smash in the rebound thanks to a Krul stop.
Blues were back level and looked a galvanised side, which could have got even better if Hogan didn’t fire over a guilt edged opportunity just before half-time.
Level at the break, but a fantastic first half performance from Blues.
Along came the second half and Norwich looked to up their tempo and get more of a foothold in the game, which they did and that may have been due to Blues going into their shell a little.
The game was finely poised and neither side had glorious opportunities to take the lead. With that the game started to see changes and Karanka made an enforced one with Sanchez coming off for Valery (which looked like the former needed due to a knock he picked up in the first half). Another change saw Harper give way for MSJ – who’s Blues career has gone down like a lead balloon.
A few minutes had gone by since those changes and then came a moment you couldn’t write. A shot from outside the 18 yard box ricocheted off Harlee Dean twice and fell nicely into the path of Pukki who had an open goal due to Etheridge already committing himself to the first shot. Unbelievable, but when your luck is out, it’s really out.
It wouldn’t be a Blues game without some questionable subs and Karanka kept up that trend with bringing Juke and Roberts on for Gardner and erm…Bela. The formation I’m not so sure.
Blues tried their upmost to get themselves back into the game, but it came to no avail and eventually Norwich wrapped it all up. A lose ball was missed by MSJ in the air and Norwich found themselves in on a 3v1 counter attack, the ball was squared to the right of Etheridge and Skipp slammed it home. Game, Set and Match.
Overall it was a spirited performance and on another day we may have found ourselves coming away with at least a point which I’d argue we deserved. However, once that 2nd goal came you just felt it was a step too far for Blues. They now turn their focuses to Saturday and it’s another huge game against QPR, who Blues need to be looking to break their home hoodoo against.
Can they do it? We’ll have to wait and see.
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