Often Partisan

A Christmas Cracker – MK Dons Reflections

Birmingham City returned to winning ways for the second game in succession at St Andrew’s against MK Dons. Jacques Maghoma scored his first goal at home in Blues colours to settle the game but in fairness the 1-0 scoreline flattered the visitors.

Whatever Gary Rowett said to his players in the time between Boxing Day and today clearly worked. While there were changes – Paul Robinson, Stephen Gleeson and Clayton Donaldson all returning from being out of the side due to injury and illness along with Viv Solomon-Otabor stepping up from the bench for his full debut in place of Demarai Gray – the sea change in the way Blues played was obvious from the outset.

Maghoma and Solomon were direct from the off, forcing their respective opposition full-backs onto the back foot and giving Blues an outlet on either side. Jon Toral’s class with his touches and passing belied his youth but most importantly, Donaldson showed us what we’ve been missing in his absence.

Yes, he should have scored when he hit the bar. Donaldson’s game is much more than goals though – his strength and ability literally shoves Blues higher up the pitch. This was evident early on as a ball cleared towards him at speed and head height was deftly headed into the path of young Solomon who showed great skill in bringing it under control with his first touch and allowed him to break down the right. No other Blues striker would have got near the ball, let alone found another player with it.

I honestly don’t know how he does it sometimes – particularly as fouled as he gets – but Donaldson has this ability to beast defenders, to pressure them into errors allowing him to get the ball when he has no right to do so. With the three attacking midfielders feeding off his scraps Blues were able to create a host of chances and probably should have got three or four goals.

Rather than the laboured, slow and sluggish attacking as was evidenced at Hillsborough Blues were direct, attacking with pace and power that had been so sorely lacking on Boxing Day. If Blues are to push on up the table, they have to maintain that kind of attacking ability.

I’m not the biggest fan of Paul Robinson; I don’t buy into this “captain, leader, legend” stuff that is banded about by his acolytes but I will not deny that Robbo had a very good game today. He bought a lot of calm to the defence (despite being booked) and made a great clearance from 5 yards after Tomasz Kuszczak had spilled a chance back into the danger zone – a clearance that prevented a certain goal.

I think we’ve missed Gleeson too on Boxing Day. Although he plays a deeper role than Toral the Irishman is as important in helping to get attacks started; he also adds another goal threat from midfield which was evidenced by the Tilton beseeching him to shoot every time he was close. My only criticism would be his corners from the right-hand side but as we lack a left-footed corner taker I don’t think it’s fair to be too harsh on him for only being able to stand the ball up rather than whip it in.

Today was a performance to be savoured, a goal to enjoy and three points that will help push us back up the table. After a few wobbly performances it was the Christmas cracker that the largest home crowd of the season wanted and hopefully the start of the next phase of a playoff push.

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62 Responses to “A Christmas Cracker – MK Dons Reflections”

  • Bluesfan says:

    Good result for blues and credit where it’s due Maghoma played well again I’ve got to admit I slated him not long ago but he’s proving me wrong hope it continues up the blues. KRO.

  • Lee says:

    Nice to read an upbeat report after a great performance, hopefully with cotts coming back soon a two or three additions in January things might be back on the up

  • BluesBlues says:

    Good performance and more importantley three points which keeps us in touch with sixth place. Hopefully some new faces to push us onwards and upwards. I’d like a left back and centre half along with another forward. We have a great chance of getting into the play offs just need a little bit of luck and hopefully some investment.

    Happy new year to you all


  • Bluehobba says:

    Very true and a welcome 3 points. Sometimes wonder what price you put on Donaldson when he brings so many players in to the game. If he had gone for £2mil in the summer it would have been difficult to find a player that would fill his role. Total certainly has a bright future…kro

  • Waycoolblue says:

    Donaldson’s value is impeccable I see him being back helping Gray a team cant spend the hole game man marking Gray with Donaldson running the channels . KRO

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Someone needs to wrap Donaldson up in cotton wool between games. With some good signings next month and him staying fit for the rest of the season I think we can still get 6th place – without him no chance whatsoever. Enjoyed the game and there seemed to few more in the ground than usual which helped the atmosphere,

  • Sue noble says:

    I wonder if GR might be thinking of taking the money Gray, I don’t like selling our better players but Soloman Ottabor looks like a ready made replacement, probably even a bit quicker and definitely stronger

    • atko says:

      I am starting to suspect he will leave in January. Could a deal already be done? I say this because GR’s whole attitude seems to have changed IMO. From making it clear he wants him to stay to talking in most interviews about the reality of him going this window. In his interview after the game he spoke about resting Gray and giving Viv a chance with January coming up. For me that was an interesting comment. Great performance today though, just what we needed.

  • KC says:

    Good to see accurate and honest comments from Karl Robinson in his post match summary. They were well beaten today. It should be a cracker against Brentford now that we are beginning to show more confidence at home.

    • zxcv says:

      Brentford will be a very different game mate. MKDons to be fair are pish poor.

      • atko says:

        Agreed. We could have got stung on more than one occasion today against a better team by committing too many men forward. Thankfully though we are left celebrating what was a good performance in the main. Hopefully GR can remind certain players not to be too eager
        Great result though!

  • ChrisG says:

    I thought the whole team played well today & actually played like a team rather than strangers as they have so often lately, i’ve absolutely hammered Grounds over the last couple of months but even he had a much better game today. We could of had a hat full of goals today but a win is a win & if we carry on playing like we did i’m sure more goals will come.

  • Matt Barnes says:

    Robo was great today. Absolute leader, yes he has bad games, but for a a free who was only supposed to be with us for half a season, 3 years ago, he hasn’t done too bad. Love the Don’t as well total different team with him in the side.

  • Singapore Brum says:

    A very welcomed result indeed, especially against a lower placed team in the division. Having lost to 5 teams at home who are currently placed lower in the Championship, we really need to improve our home form.

    Interestingly, 7 out of the top 8 teams right now, have to come to St Andrews. If we can get results against them, that might just keep our interest going to the end of the season.

    For that to happen of course, we do need to strengthen the squad so it is the fine art of balancing the books vs risking the push to promotion problem.

    Realistically, I have no expectations of anything other than a mid table finish. Anything more than that will be a success given the enormity of our situation.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    The best thing about yesterday was that you could not pick out a single player who had a below par game. Some concerns that Donaldson has problems scoring sitters and also too frequently we had a winger ready to cross the ball in with insufficent support in the box, but that really is nit-picking. A great performance and result which flattered Dons. Watched the goal several times and it was a cracker though it was also hilarious. 5 Dons defenders and a goalkeeper stood in Meghomas way and when he changed direction they followed him like a flock of geese. KRO!!

  • Mitchell says:

    I tend to agree that Gray will most probably leave next month. In fairness to GR and staff I really cannot see Gray improving now at Stans. He will obviously leave for a proper Prem.set up who no doubt will enhance his skills. TF and Latchford and more recently Redmond made the move up and prospered. What we really need for 2016 is a speeding up of the TTA affair etc.

  • Gerard says:

    Mitchell- TF and Latchford moved because we run by a board that had no idea- we were in the old first division and because of lack of hindsight and investment we did not move forward it had nothing to do with wages overseas owners playing in front of less than 20,000 people it was just bad management-TF best days ever as a player were at St. Andrews we saw the best of him by far no matter what he went on to win after- re Bob Latchford read his book he confirms what I say yes he went on to better things but a better player ? just moved to a better team-also Bob quotes the forward line of Latchford-Hatton -Francis as the best he ever played in and says TF simply was the best player he ever saw or played with and that my friend was at St. Andrews , think before you engage your brain next time- all about opinions but I never missed a match home or away for nearly seven years watching the best forward line I have ever seen at club level- as Bob Latchford said if only we had bought a defence to match we would have won everything and I agree. yours a supporter for 59 years and still only 65

    • Tony says:

      Absolutely those two moved to better teams, but they did not become better players Francis, Latchford, Hatton that’s as good as it is possible to get, I pity the fans of today watching what we have now compared to then.

    • BlackCountryBlue says:

      Have to agree G, premier is over hyped and over rated. It is just a money maker where proper football fans are the last people who matter. Too many have a vested interest and rely on it for a good living eg some people in the media, to call it as it – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
      As for Revie – he set English football back years with his footballing philosophy of intimidation and spoiling, even with a team of very talented players at Leeds – Giles being a perfect example. How he got the England job amazes me.

    • paul whittaker says:

      did we stand together???? my first game in 1956and watched the team with awe!!
      I am also 65 and supported thro thin & thin

  • Gerard says:

    ps- Bob Latchford in his book says never compare Rooney -yes Wayne or similar players like Beckham etc too TF- not fit to lace TF boots -TF simply light years ahead of them he also says the likes of Rooney etc would never have coped on muddy pitches with proper boots and a ball that was twice as heavy as todays ball even with todays modern training facilities and back up and that most of them would have cried off after a couple of tackles by the likes of Roger Hynd once again I agree . TF in modern terms would have been talked about in the same terms as Messi -Ronaldo and in my opinion TF was a better all round player than any of todays so called greats- TF was a great and had he played for a Real Madrid or Barcelona would have surpassed Messi or Ronaldo for sure, luckily he played for the team I love -finally the vile fans used to say that Brian Little was better than TF-not much changed in Aston since there thinking borders on insanity long may it remain that way especially in the Championship which when they are relegated next year-they think they will walk straight back to the Premiership I said there were insane also bloody arrogant never mind the truth often hurts .

    • Tony says:

      The Vile have never forgiven Trevor for putting four in their net, oh how sweet was that.

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      The Clifford Coombs board lacked ambition and probably sufficient money to buy a decent defence. Want was a Spurs reserve and was the only summer defensive signing. Goodwin must have wanted to replace Harland too at the same time and must have said ‘told you so’ when Malcolm McDonald gave him 10 yards start and outstripped him to score in our second game.

      Taylor and Page/Smith positions was a problem too so we didn’t really think it was just ‘fix the defence’ but in retrospect it probably was. Great home form but away a point was always an unexpected bonus

      • BhamCityJulian says:

        John Roberts was brought in in October – another reserve this time from Arsenal.

        I heard a story he got duffed up after the ’75 semi final replay for being ‘unsympathetic’. Anyone else here that

  • nicko says:

    lets all be honest how many good games has dimmy had this season and how many chances has
    he missed he will get better but for me he gets knocked off the ball to easy kro

  • Gerard says:

    comparing Redmond to Tf- I think Nathan a really good player and still a blue nose but TF was a million times better player a great world class act–it is funny how Man Utd fans voted Beckham as there best ever player he was not fit to lace Best Charlton or Dennis Laws boots- says it all about there fans today

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    Didn’t Revie say TF was ‘tactically naïve’ when he eventually joined the England squad. As Bob said Blues tactics were to get the ball to TF and be close by to pick up any pieces

  • Distant Blue says:

    I would love Dimmi to stay…. but thats just not how football works these days. GR will make the decision and im sure he has a plan for January and a back up if Dimmi goes. In Gary We Trust. KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    Can’t see Gray starting another game for Blues now that Soloman as took is place and looking stronger , quicker and more comfortable on the ball and the fact that he’s on his way by the looks of it …… Good , solid , attacking performance from Blues but not over impressed with those missed chances again but back to back home wins and Brentford to come Saturday who are just above us on goal difference means we can put ourselves right back in to top six contention , same again will do nicely . Kro

  • KC says:

    Brentford’s lively attack will be a good test for our defence. Spectacular goal from the young lad on lone from Liverpool yesterday against Reading. The sort Gray is capable of when he at his best !

  • Gerard says:

    Julian- indeed my memory and mind are very sound- the trouble with those who have only watched football for the last 20 years or so since the Premiership began that is all they compare it too – and quite frankly it is now so over hyped and over rated it turns me off if it was not for my love of BCFC I would possibly not watch another game todays modern players would not last 10 mins in games played during the 70s-80s they would be sending in sick notes and there agents would say they cannot play with the ball they used back then and there is to much mud on the pitch-that is nothing to do with memory my friend it is fact-todays nandy -pandy are just over paid and over -estimated again nothing to do with memory just truth.
    Re Revie he picked Little before Trevor and then used TF out of position and starved him of the ball as Channon and Keegan who TF was a miles better player than those two decided to freeze TF out as they knew that he was far better than they were also Revie yes he had great players at Leeds but he put bully boy tactics first football second and he failed at International level and ended up in the middle-east

  • Brian says:

    Every club needs a legend blues have been lucky we have had the likes of Hatton, Latchford, Worthington, Gemal, Kendle and many others. However TF is much, much more than legend he
    Is a simble of hope a shinning star in the hearts that one day we will have another TF who will take us to the holy grail, TF is.

  • Shirley Blue says:

    Just to get back to the present day I have read that Patrick Bamford’s loan spell with Crystal Palace has ended early because he wasn’t getting enough time on the pitch. GR could do a lot worse than getting him in on loan subject to his availability.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I agree. I mentioned him in the last loan window. I think he’d suit our playing style.

      • Shirley Blue says:

        Very aggressive, proven goal scorer at top Championship level and can play the lone front man role. Wages might be on the steep side for us though it would only be for 5 months. One issue is that he would be unlikely to be happy to play to play second fiddle to Clayton Donaldson. If he came to us he would expect to play not be on the bench. The quality of player who could get us into the play-offs.

  • Dan says:

    C’mon guys get real. The likes of Messie would be class players whenever they played. Players cry now ‘coz they can get away with it. If they played in the mud in theb80s they would still be class, just like TF would have been incredible to see in some of these silky smooth pitches.
    Almost all the great players of the past would fall down and cry if they played now, just like the rest of the babies do. Don’t kid yourselves that Francis would not.

    Also, not sure I was at the same first half as the rest of you yesterday. Very limited movement and poor passing.
    Second half picked up and the fans did…. Which was when Donaldson hit the bar. The crowd started singing and the tempo picked up.
    Does this show that the crowd need to be the ones to take the lead right from kickoff. We were a completely different team from that point excitimg, made lots of chances and it was fun to watch!

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think I may have been at the same match as you. Whatcha think? :)

      StaffsBlue says:
      December 28, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      We were a bit ponderous in the first half, but second half, we came out and started to move the ball around a lot better.

  • KC says:

    Excuse me going back to the past for a moment during this festive season but in addition to the wonderful Francis/Latchford/Hatton trio I am sure there are those that remember Kinsey/Brown/Murphy plus wingers Astall and Govan, Bloomfield/Harris/Leek plus wingers Hellawell and the great Bertie Auld, and the Bridges/Pickering/ Vowden combo.

    • David L says:

      I thought my memory went back a long way – but for someone else to mention Kinsey/Brown/Murphy and other greats from the black’n’white Brylcream era …wonderful nostalgia!

      Didn’t Murphy’s singing on the coach back from away games lead to the adoption of “KRO” as our tune?

      More power to your memories men! Anyone round here remember Joe Bradford?

  • Tony says:

    Yes KC I remember every one of those.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    BPV combo would have graced Division 1 if Cullis had built a defence

    • paul whittaker says:

      seem to remember Pickering grabbing Bridges by the collar lifting him off his feet
      and saying “if you(bridges) sign on for next season I will not”
      This occurred after the semi final
      (Bridges didn’t sign)

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