Often Partisan

Crunch Matches

Birmingham City lost 2-1 against play-off hopefuls Reading at the weekend to extend their winless run to five games. Blues now lie in 20th place, just five points above the dropzone with a crunch clash against 22nd placed Millwall tomorrow at the Den.

It seems ridiculous to be talking about crunch clashes with nine games left in the season but make no mistake of it – tomorrow’s match against Millwall is just that. Win and Blues extend the gap to the bottom three to a minimum six points – more if Yeovil lose to Leicester. Lose and the gap becomes so much narrower and with 21st placed Charlton having three games in hand the heat will very much be on.

Due to other commitments I couldn’t go on Saturday and so I won’t comment on individual performances; what I can say is from reading reports online and from Twitter it does seem that Blues were unlucky in defeat. As much as people are trying to take positives from that I’m reminded that one of the true hallmarks of a team in trouble is when they play well and can’t win; when they don’t get the rub of the green and when injuries pile up as they have been for Blues.

In his match report Colin Tattum talks about how Blues cannot feel sorry for themselves; how the team and indeed the fans need to pick themselves up and get back on it on Tuesday and I believe he is absolutely right. Saturday’s result can’t be affected now; it has to be put in the past and we all have to move on, to treat Tuesday night as another game and another chance to put points on the table.

The Den has been a happy hunting ground of late; last season Blues came back from 3-0 down with a Marlon King hat-trick to get a point in pink; the season previously Blues thrashed a nine-man Millwall side 6-0. Even before that, I can remember the 4-0 drubbing we gave them in the FA Cup in 2011 and who can forget Stern John showing his predilection for last minute finishes in the playoff semi back in 2002?

I don’t want to think of the potential should we not get a result in London tomorrow; I think I’ve dwelled too much in particular on the downside of late and I want to believe that the team can do it; that Lee Clark will hit on the magic formula needed to get the team firing and that the away support (who have been magnificent as ever) will be able to lift the team out of the mire. I think if Blues can pick up a win tomorrow it should give us enough impetus to keep us out of the dropzone – I hate the thought that the next nine games are “cup finals” – I think we have to take it one game at a time and if we can just win the next one the rest might take care of themselves.

Attention at St Andrews tonight turns to another match against a London team with Blues Ladies facing Arsenal in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Let’s hope the ladies can show the men how to win at home and we can start talking of positive stuff around the club once more.

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