Often Partisan

Brighton Match Reflections

Birmingham City recorded their first home win in the league for a mindblowing 319 days, denying Cambridge United the chance to lose their share in the unwanted record for most consecutive home league games without a win. A Wes Thomas header early in the second half was enough to see off a Brighton side that struggled to cope with Blues’ pressing and tempo.

I could go into the whole spiel about it being a relief that the monkey is off our back now but I think it’s almost a bit cliched. Instead I wanted to reflect on the differences between this season’s team (based on that game) and what I saw last season – and why it gives me renewed hope that things won’t be quite as bad as they have been.

I think last season’s team would have ended up losing that game. It was a game of few chances really; Blues struggled a bit with end product and while their high line of pressing did force Brighton into making quite a few mistakes we struggled to capitalise on them. However, unlike last season we did two things that made a difference and got us the three points.

Firstly, Clark didn’t panic. He stuck to his guns – even when Davis picked up what looked like a bit of pain in his side, keeping the 4-4-2 and trusting Stephen Gleeson to fill in that central midfield role alongside Paul Caddis. Secondly, the team stuck to the plan as well even as they struggled to get the rub of the green in the final third. Wes Thomas was tireless, harassing the defenders and Stockdale in the Brighton goal and forcing openings as the Brighton backline panicked a little. Things weren’t going his way and I was a little worried for his confidence but when his chance come he finished with aplomb, a delightful header from a Cotterill cross.

The Blues backline looks a lot stronger than at most points last season; both Hall and Edgar looked composed and strong and while Grounds did get caught once or twice in possession it was good to see the defence covering each other; I thought Jonathan Spector in particular contributed massively to the clean sheet. I was intrigued that Paul Robinson didn’t start and based on that performance I think the club skipper may get more of a bit part role this year – which for me isn’t the worst thing either.

Clayton Donaldson was interesting; he looks a unit who can get about and as one of my friends pointed out, while the ball seems to bounce around off his feet he comes up with it more often than not. While I don’t think he’ll be overly prolific (despite making a bet with the Crystal Palace fan in my office that Donaldson will get more than ten this season) I think he’s something we’ve been lacking – that kind of pace and power that bullies defenders. In tandem with Thomas who’s a little bit quicker and is a willing worker we have a front line who will make Championship level defenders make mistakes.

All in all it was a good day – three points, a clean sheet and a happy buzz around the stadium. Let’s have some more of that please.

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22 Responses to “Brighton Match Reflections”

  • motozulu says:

    Don’t underestimate Davis’ contribution either – a great ratting display in the middle of the park.

  • Oldburyblue says:

    Strange how differently people see a game and performances. Spector didn’t stand out to me at all. Could it be where we sit? I have noticed it many times in the past that when I watch a recording of a match from cameras in the Old Main Stand you can see the good work of players that may go un-noticed live from the other side of the pitch. Mind….it MIGHT have something to do with my eyesight these days!

  • Chris W says:

    Have to agree with Spector, I think that is one of the best games I have seen him perform for a long while.
    The team needs more game time together so hopefully it should be the same Tuesday barring injuries.
    Might see Duffy given a run too.

  • Captain Swing says:

    Solid pre season, lower league club dismissed from League Cup (OK, after extra time) clean sheet and win against a club in the playoffs last year…even with the Boro disappointment, I’d have settled for that after 70 mins at the Reebok…!

    Sure, need to build on this vs Tractor Boys, but to me, things look a whole lot better than they might have done.
    Agree with you re Donaldson. Having seen him a bit at York – a lower level, I admit – he does look a bit clumsy, but he does have a bit of biff, and he does put it in the net. Mind you, apparently you do have to keep him sweet.

  • James Paterson says:

    Personally I thought the performance was possibly better than any i saw at home last season. No need to get carried away, but a few more of those and we’ll be OK this time around.

    I thought Hall and Edgar looked a solid partnership, as did Caddis and Davis/Gleeson. Clearly, Reilly could fill in for Caddis when he needs a rest and Brown could easily make a few appearances for the others to aid his development.

    I thought Spector was a class act, but Grounds was suspect. I bet if Gunning was fit/not injured he’d have started at left back, but bit mystified why Hancox isn’t in the fold – injured?

    On the wings, Cotterill looks a fantastic acquisition. The guy behind me hit the nail on the head when he said that by being two footed, he can play on either flank and cut inside/outside with ease, very much like Burke. Over time, I’d like to see Novak get replaced by Duffy/Gray and play a supporting role. I prefer a wide man out wide although I have to say Novak could do a job away from home in a 4-5-1.

    The two guys upfront did well – Donaldson reminds me of Jerome, but he can finish based on the friendlies! I am looking forward to seeing more of Johnstone and was disappointed he didn’t get a run late on yesterday when we were looking out of breath towards the end. Perhaps to be fair to Clark he hasn’t had a pre-season and possibly just isn’t ready yet.

    Finally, I’m not a big Clark fan – I think he still has alot to prove given he’s now starting his third season and we’ve not exactly improved in that period – but, I agree with the strategy of signing free transfer players with potential and I’ll give the guy a chance and hope he can build on this.

    Perhaps Alan Thompson is having a positive effect too – I heard from a Celtic fan he was well thought of up there and most suspected he would succeed Lennon.

  • mark says:

    another happy bluenose Tuesday i should be even happier lol

  • beegeeblueboy says:

    As a unit that XI was balanced and the substitutions were logical. There is a definite lack of technical quality in forward positions which will become very apparent against the better defences i.e. more repeats of Boro so I think that’ll prevent us staying clear of a relegation battle. However one thing they came out of yesterday was that it was not boring which can’t me said of most of the games last season.

  • Andy Moore says:

    Having been at the game I thought we were solid for 90 minutes which is such a positive in comparison to last season. However, I don’t think we should get carried away yet as Brighton were extremely poor having sold many of their best players.
    At the back I thought Spector was individually very impressive and if he stays fit he has the potential to be a really pivotal player this season with his bags of experience. The player I was most impressed with in the back four was Edgar, as well as being solid in the middle you could see he was a natural leader there, when Clark bumped him forward to CM I thought we lost a bit of shape and found ourselves under pressure a bit more.
    Davis is also going to be crucial for us this season, he’s strong, composed and isn’t afraid to get stuck in. Clark has to be praised for his work in the transfer window and with the addition with another commanding DM I can see a good mid-table finish appearing.

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    Spector did ok but Cotterill has to be motm. I hope LC doesn’t mess with the team too much just to keep players happy. I would’ve picked more or less the same team as LC apart from Thomas. I would’ve played Novak with Donaldson and Cotterill on left and Duffy on right. Another win versus Ipswich now.

  • Rick says:

    Very happy. I think we need another experienced CM from somewhere, but overall, good performance.

  • Alan Watton says:

    Never felt we were going to concede. Its what I want to see in my team. I don’t want to crap myself when the ball comes in our box. There were times last year when I was uneasy when the ball came in our half! The back four contained the 4 most effective defenders in the club.
    My fear is Clarke will come up with a new plan for the next game.

    • Raymondo says:

      I hope not Alan. I think that, rightly or wrongly, he was doing that to try to find a winning formula at home. I think he’s found it now, judging by LC’s own comments after the game. When we had to use substitutes on Saturday he still kept the solid shape of the team which i found encouraging. I would like to see Duffy and Cotterill play together though. Both of them can outpace defenders and both have a good shot on them. In Cotterill’s case, iin both feet.

  • mark says:

    gathered we are looking at bringing Rob Hall back…..

  • mark says:

    maybe Brighton were poor so what you can only beat the team in front of you….kro 3 points in the the bag, hoodoo gone, just maybe Ipswich may offer a different approach on Tuesday….or maybe they are bag of s**t…..

  • mark says:

    what we now know that every players need to play at their best to stay in that starting 11….barring injuries of course….what we are starting to see is a team effort…
    lovely quote by wes at half time got stuck into cotterill about getting those crosses in, and yes one found his head with a beauty….Players giving it their all for the shirt dont you just love it…………….kro

  • mark says:

    by getting another win on Tuesday we start shooting up the table, gosh we could be in the play off places lol

  • William Styler says:

    What’s happened to local radio coverage of the games, Free 8o’s radio down to 1 match only at weekends and none in midweek,? I know people will moan and say go to the games but for a lot of people out there money is tight and the
    radio commentry was something to look forward to, Tom Ross need to take a good look at himself, going down in respect for him over takeovertalk that never came true and now this

  • mark says:

    looks like blues signed striker alun Armstrong 18 old age one for the U21 , clark dismissed speculation regarding Rob Hall nothing doing

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