BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 BLUES 1
Gianfranco Zola remains winless as Birmingham City manager, the run stretching to eight games after today’s 1-1 draw at Ewood Park. It was another case of what could have been for Blues who once again enjoyed more possession and created more chances than their hosts.
Somehow, Blues sit just eight points below the play-offs. A winless run lasting this long would usually result in a team falling way behind the pack but, amazingly, Blues haven’t lost much ground of late. However, being the only team with a negative goal difference (minus five) in the top half of the Championship continues to be a problem.
Lukas Jutkiewicz’s goalscoring account ventures into double figures as he gave Blues the perfect start from the penalty spot in the third minute. Other chances were squandered, most notably by David Cotterill and Che Adams, as Zola’s men started the game brightly.
As the first half wore on, Blackburn began to involve themselves more in proceedings. Danny Graham had the ball over the line only to be flagged offside and a fine save by Tomasz Kuszczak denied Hope Akpan. It seemed as if Blues had weathered the storm and just as the players had one eye on their half-time oranges, Graham converted a Derrick Williams cross to bring the scores level deep into first half stoppage time.
Cotterill and Jutkiewicz came close again at the start of the second half and Craig Gardner had an effort saved. From a flurry of corners shortly after, Blues didn’t pose any real danger to the Rovers defence before Sam Gallagher missed the hosts best opportunity of the game with twenty minutes left.
In the dying embers of the game, Ryan Shotton was denied by two excellent saves from Jason Steele as Blues tried in vain to force the winner. But it wasn’t to be.
Kerim Frei was handed a debut from the bench when he replaced Cotterll late on and the most notable absentee was Diego Fabbrinimwho didn’t travel with the squad and may depart this month.
Zola seems to have taken one step forward since he took the reigns by turning the early defeats into draws. Nevertheless, an even bigger step is needed now to turn these draws into wins.
In their last two Championship games, Blues have had 26 efforts but have come away with two points and one goal for their troubles. That is something Zola has tried to address in the January transfer market by adding three players to his ranks in the last few days. The new boys should have a part to play once they have settled in as they approach their first full week of training at Wast Hills ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City.
The winless run isn’t Rover for Birmingham City
BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 BLUES 1