Another chance missed.
Wolves lost and Reading drew. This was going to be our big, big chance to return to joint second, putting pressure on the other teams in this intense battle for promotion.
However it seems as if no-one wants to be promoted from this league, as all 3 contrived to drop at least 2 points.
For Blues, it`s hard to say whether it was a point gained or two lost. Based on the first 30 minutes, it is a point gained by a massive, monumental, slice of luck. However based on the majority of the second period, it could well be seen as two points lost.
Blues started terribly (haven`t heard that one before), and it took Burnley less than 3 minutes to take the lead. Burnley had all the possession and it`s doubtful as to whether Blues even got a touch of the ball before Paterson stroked the ball home after a bit of poor marking.
And it didn`t improve from there.
Burnley then went on to have 3 clear cut chances to score, and in all honestly Blues should`ve been 4-0 down, and the scoreline would not have flattered our opponents.
The defence was simply shocking, the midfield was being overrun (again) and the forwards barely got a touch of the ball.
In the opening half an hour, it was hard to notice any Blues players fighting for the cause. While Jerome definitely seemed up for the game, very few of his teammates offered anything in the opening half hour, bar Hameur Bouazza and Scott Sinclair who tried their best to influence proceedings.
Then Blues got lucky.
A dodgy back pass to Burnley keeper Brian Jensen from Stephen Caldwell, coupled with the sight of Kevin Phillips chasing the ball down put the pressure on Jensen. The keeper nicknamed ‘the beast` panicked, and tried to head the ball away from Phillips, to no avail, and Phillips gathered the ball, before turning expertly and squeezing the ball under the body of Jensen with the finesse of a striker who`s been there, seen it and done it all before.
This terrible mistake then went on to turn the game on its head. In the 8 minutes that followed before half time, Burnley`s players seemed to lose all of their confidence, and every pass seemed to go straight to a Blues player.
The fans sensed that this could have represented our best opportunity to date to go ahead in the game and they got behind the team. And Blues should`ve been 2-1 up. A good move ended with Lee Bowyer poking the ball beyond Jensen and into the net, and the goal should have stood, but Bowyer was unjustly ruled to be offside. The officials had another poor game, and this was compounded by their failure to award Blues a penalty after Scott Sinclair was upended in clear view of the referee.
Thanks to the officials, Burnley managed to escape to their dressing room to regroup with the score still at 1-1, and they came out in the second half in a much more composed manner.
In the second half, Blues started to perform more as a unit, and on another day Lee Bowyer could have been celebrating a hat-trick.
Just as Blues were going through the gears and looking good, McLeish took off Bouazza to give Costly his debut. I, like many of those around me was confused with the substitution as Bouazza was looking good and this sub meant that Jerome was forced out wide.
Jerome was later taken off for Fahey, when for me it should have been Lee Bowyer coming off, and Blues went on to win a series of free kicks from which they should have done better.
From a direct free kick, Larsson brought out a good save from Jensen but from numerous free kicks put into the box, Blues did not do enough to try to win the ball and put it in the back of the net.
All in all, McLeish will settle for a point after the opening third of the game, but he will regret the decision making of the officials which conspired to deny our bid to go back second in the table.
However, once again, Blues` performance did not deserve all three points.
Maik Taylor`s kicking was absolutely abysmal, while Seb Larsson proved that he is not a defender. Now I think Seb is an absolutely fantastic player, and once again he put his entire work rate into this performance but he is just not a defender. When Chris Eagles came off the bench, he exploited this perfectly, and he showed exactly why Blues need to sign a right back on loan.
In midfield, Scott Sinclair was fantastic. He was the best player on the pitch and he had his best game for Blues. The boy showed all the pace and skill that he possesses and if he continues in this vein of form, it will be extremely hard for Seb Larsson to regain his place on the right of Blues midfield. On the other side, Bouazza had a decent game, but he was overshadowed by Sinclair on the other wing. Carsley and Bowyer were okay but for me McLeish made a mistake playing them together. I think that Keith Fahey deserved a start after his impressive performances to date.
Up front, Jerome had a decent game while Phillips was Kevin Phillips. He contributed a little but his greatest contribution came in the 37th minute when he slotted home. However, I do sincerely hope that Carlos Costly was as disappointed as I was with his performance. I thought it was just Marcus Bent with a wig on. He won little, his first touch was absolutely abysmal and he was poor but I hope that we can put this down to the fact that he is not match fit as of yet. Hopefully the best of Carlos is still to come.
And for our sake, let`s hope that the best of Blues is still to come, because if yesterday`s performance is us at our maximum, then we can wave goodbye to automatic promotion.
Another chance missed.