Often Partisan

Three Massive Points – Blues v Bolton Match Reflections

Here are my reflections on the game between Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers

1) Three Massive Points

There had been a lot of talk on the forums about how this was a big week for Clark and I have to say I agree, it is. It wasn’t always pretty but that win was huge for Blues. It showed that they could grind out the result in the face of opposition who were intent on pressing and niggling away; it showed that they could fashion moments of class like the one to make the first goal and it showed that there is something building about this team. Clark apparently shouted himself hoarse on the touchline – which doesn’t surprise me, because he was incredibly animated on the touchline and he showed the passion I think Blues fans demand.

2) Wade Elliott

What a performance from the former Burnley man. Industrious on the ball, forever willing to receive a pass and absolutely incisive with his forward play. The ball for the first goal was a delight – skillfully cutting out Alonso to put Caddis in down the right with the room to allow the on-loan full back to put it on a plate for Leroy Lita. Burke should have scored when played in by Elliott ten minutes later in a similar fashion with another absolute defence-splitter of a pass. Elliott has sometimes been the forgotten man of the Blues midfield but I think he’s shown the hunger to retain his place and he’s got to play on Saturday.

3) Leroy Lita

I’m scared to say this but I think Leroy might be the player we’ve been lacking. Lita is quick – but not just fleet of foot. He’s quick-witted, making intelligent runs and spins off the centre back to get in behind and he has some of the quickest feet I’ve seen since Mikael Forssell. The turn he used to get away from the Bolton defender late in the second half in front of me wouldn’t have disgrace Johan Cruyff – it was a beautifully executed drag to the left whilst his whole body feinted right, completely foxing the defender. An absolute joy to watch at times and he seemed to link up immediately with King.

4) Pablo Ibanez

I have previously championed the inclusion of Pablo over the misfiring Curtis and I think the Spaniard has justified the move from Clark. Pablo is an unassuming player – I know of one football journo who refers to him as “the solicitor” because you could imagine him turning up for work in a suit with a briefcase – but he was immense tonight. He tackled harder than I’ve ever seen him do before, and whilst he gave away a couple of free kicks he ensured that Kevin Davies didn’t rule the roost as he is wont to do when in his pomp. I think Clark might have unlocked his inner animal because it’s not the Pablo I’ve seen before – and I will readily confess it’s a Pablo I hope we carry on seeing.

5) Keith Fahey

It was pleasing to see the Irish central midfielder return to action and I think even in just a second half cameo he showed what we’ve missed – plenty of guile, plenty of good movement and support for the front players. He’s not fully up to speed I don’t think but he did enough to show that he’s well on the way back and not a moment too soon as it looks like we’ll be seeing Spector move back to the right back slot to cover for the injured Caddis.

All in all, a pleasing, entertaining game that gives me hope that we’re back on the up. Blues deserved all three points whatever Owen Coyle thinks for their industriousness and better play – Bolton gave us a game but I can’t stand teams that try to niggle their way to victory and I thought Bolton were incredibly lucky at times to not gain more bookings. Hopefully, this will be the first of a double-header of victories.

The match in numbers

22 – Marlon King scored his 22nd goal in Blues colours tonight, drawing him level with Nikola Zigic as top current goalscorer in the team
10 – the number of seconds it took for Coyle to decide to bring on Petrov to run at Curtis Davies at right back. Thankfully we held out.
3 – the number of penalties Blues have scored in their first eight games. I’ve never known us to get so many pens in so few games.
4 – Owen Coyle waved four fingers at the ref in the second half to indicate some injustice – I’m not sure what though.
-5 – the temperature in degrees celsius it felt like at half time – I had forgotten how cold night games could get.

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29 Responses to “Three Massive Points – Blues v Bolton Match Reflections”

  • andy says:

    Its certainly looking better and Lee Clark is passionate about this club, its great to see that from the manager. Another win on saturday and Blues are well and truly up and running.

  • Chris says:

    Final game before a two year stint in Australia (convict jokes welcome!) looked in far better shape than pre-international break. Wade Elliott was the stand out, alongside Caddis. Still need a midfield controller a la Ferguson and someone needs to teach Butland to kick, although a couple of the saves were top class. Lita looked lively and a good cameo from Nathan.

    • BluenoseDownunder says:

      G’Day Chris, you will be the 5th Blues fan here that i know of! LOL

    • Cocka says:

      Good luck on your adventure, I remember watching Blues lose 3 – nil away at sheff utd 2001-2002 before i went back packing round oz for a couple years safe in the knowledge that Blues were doomed for another year in the second tier . Well we can recall that season KRO

  • BluenoseDownunder says:

    Thanks Almajir so much for another excellent summary. Is it too soon to come up with the cliche that we have turned the corner? It does seem like we finally have the framework required for building a team rather than the tinkering & guesswork that we saw in the first few games? Momentum is the key from here onwards, lets hope we can keep it going and take this form into the Barnsley game on Saturday. KRO

  • DoctorD says:

    Phew, that league table looks so much better now.

  • swissjonny says:

    Its exactly what we needed! Lets keep the momentum going and get the numbers and atmosphere back at St Andrews.We need to get back to the days when no team wanted to come to our place because the crowd were as good as a twelth player.Were any of the Italian consortium on view last night?

  • Bluenosesol says:

    If we can win on Saturday and a few results go for us, we will be set fair, though we need to do well as we have two tough away games to follow (Brighton and Cardiff). Thought Caddis was superb tonight so hoping his shoulder injury doesnt become prolonged ( 4 weeks estimate by club). Agree Ibanez was brilliant. Davies looked up for it and I would expect him to be replacing Cauldwell any day now, as he isnt lighting any fires with his recent performances. Cant believe Coyle moaning about the ref. He gave a diabolical offside decision against us when Lita ran past two defenders when he was 2 yards onside when the ball was played. They hoofed the ball up field which led to their free kick and first goal. For their penalty, Zat Knight was already booked and should have had a second yellow for a cynical foul. Incredible run from Redmond from one end of the pitch to the other and finish with a pass and shot which deserved a goal. A couple of poor kicks from Butland, but apart from that his kicks were penetrating and his overall performance was solid with some very good saves. Strange how Caddis brings out the best in Burke and he faded after Caddis was injured. Lita had a good game but not sure he was man of the match as he faded a little in the second half (to be expected at this stage).
    The outlook is definitiely improving…

    PS we had a discussion last night about Morrison. I read an article on the net which highlighted the best 5 players to watch out for in the Championship. His list included Butland and Morrison. Ferguson and Man U think that as a footballer he is the brightest prospect in the country. He has played quite well for us in the couple of short opportunities he has had, so why on earth have we not seen more of him. Just hoping its not for non footballing reasons? KRO

  • suenoble says:

    Nearly back to last season’s team except Butland for Myhill, Caddis who is a Sephen Carr clone, and Fahey on for Mullins. If Lita has a mare on comes Ziggy and hey presto we have last year’s play off team. So yes it looks better because it’s a proven team in a proven system. If LC trusts these players and doesn’t try to infiltrate it with slow has beens we will have half a chance.

  • RichardW says:

    Marlon King MOM for me. Ran his socks off.

  • James says:

    Not a bad display from the blues last night and i think you guys have summarized well already but my two cents are: whilst Elliott had a pretty decent game he got drawn into the middle a bit too much instead of offering some width and making some space for King and Lita.

    King and Lita… Wow, I think we’ve found our best strike option. Lita seemed to bring the best out of King, I thought King challenged for more balls and got into better positions. I don’t think he was caught offside as much tonight either. Lita did a great job at getting into positions that allowed him to feed of king and peel from defenders to be through on goal.

    Really excited about the return of Fahey, personally I blame him for our failure to achieve promotion last year, his absence through injury was so evident. Mutch struggled to pick passes and hold the ball where Fahey would normally succeed (maybe b. ferguson taught him a few tricks before he went to blackpool)

    Finally Burke… Bluenosesol mentioned that Burke disappeared after Caddis went off. I Burke needs a supply of ball on the deck at the half way line. Spector doesn’t really give this, Davis certainly doesn’t. Carr likes to get forward and is Burkes best right back and I think that Burke will be back in the game as soon as Carr/Caddis are back.

    Oh and I’ll finish with a question: was I the only person in the ground that thought it was odd bringing on an attacking midfielder at 70mins when we were winning? I thought Clarkes sub strategy was a bit odd, I’m sure most of us would have brought Spector to right back when caddis went off and put a midfielder on at that point. I think Redmond could have made much more impact with more time against a slow defence.

  • If Caddis has dislocated his shoulder, four weeks is optimistic. Hope I’m wrong but you can’t buck nature. It takes longer than that for disrupted tissues to heal I’m afraid especially if you want to play professional football with the physical demands of the Championship. Couldn’t go to the games last night; hate having to listen to the match on Blues Player. I get more nervous than if I’m at the ground; so relieved when the final whistle blew :-)

  • Sheldon man says:

    I feared the worst when I saw the team sheet, but I was pleasantly surprised with the performance, particularly in the second half when Fahey replaced Mullins.
    I agree about Ibanez, he was immense and a shame about Caddis, a real quality right back who we will miss badly.
    The ref wasn’t too bad in his decision making, but why did he have a 5 minute chat with the players after every foul ? And how did Kevin Davies get through the match without a booking, when he was giving out cards like confetti ?

  • JohnR says:

    Good points Almijar, I also thought Elliott was MOM by a long way. Certainly looking a better player than last season. Strange seeing all this love for Lita, I’m not that convinced, he doesn’t hold the ball up well enough for me. He also needs to get closer to King for the knock downs and flick ons. I will say that he was sharp for his goal.
    I was unhappy at the way we kept hoofing the ball upfield when they had two giant centre backs and the ball came straight back at us. Nervy last ten minutes as well. Typical Blues heh.
    One point on Burnley as well, what a horrible niggly team they are with a complete p***k of a manager. He was doing a Wenger on the touchline making a complete idiot of himself. To be fair I thought the referee did a pretty good job of handling the game and didn’t let Davies ref the match as he normally does.

  • Tom says:

    Good 3 points for Blues last night against argueably one of the top sides in the division. Blues looked more effective in attack than Bolton and found that killer pass more often. Credit goes to the front two for their movement. You could be easily forgiven for thinking that King and Lita have played together for years; hopefully they can cuse problems for a lot more defenders this season. Caddis is a big loss. Davies isnt the player he ws last season; Coyle knew that and its why he instantly bought Petrov on. Burke needs a Caddis/Carr player behind him to be at his most effective; if he doesn’t have that then he struggles. This for me is why Clarke opted to bring Redmond on at 70 minutes last night; as he has the ability to “go it alone.”

    I dont recall a period of play last night (or in recent games) where we kept the ball and looked to retain possesion. (Unless you count holding it in the corners late into injury time) Every attack seemed to be a fast direct counter. Not neccessarily a bad thing; it has worked for Arsenal and Madrid in recent years, but it is a different approach to what Hughtons philosophy was last season. Something we may have to get used to?

    Lets not get carried away, every game in this division is a tough game. Barnsley were a goal up against Blackburn and will be sore from a defeat; but things are looking up! We are keeping Right On!!

  • tracey moore says:

    Did anyone else think Murphy had great game, quietly getting on with tackling, defending and bombing forward. Saved us on many occasions

  • john says:

    Shame about the attendance though.14,693 is just pathetic. Many fans like to have an opinion without actually going the match. Something needs to be done to encourage the fans back.

    • chris says:

      Drop the £5 fine / punishment on fans who decide to go on the day of the game.

      • almajir says:

        And punish all the other fans who buy tickets by making them pay a fiver more?

        Sure that will be a popular move.

        And before you say it, as I have mentioned a few times previously, they CANNOT drop prices as they have been fixed with the league at the start of the season.

        • James says:

          Agree with you here. You can’t punish the guys that buy season tickets… You’ve got to remember that clubs use season ticket sales as collateral (I’m not sure this is the right word) for loans.

          I’m sure that in years gone past when I’ve had club class season tickets that the kids for a quid type promotions have left me deeply out of pocket compared to people that have come because we’ve strung together a few wins.

          There’s a fine middle ground that I’m sure would be difficult to find without ignoring overheads when pricing tickets at the beginning of a season; which would be a ludicrous action.

        • hertsblue says:

          Thing is almajir, the perception that it is a supplement for fans who pitch up on the day, is what this pricing strategy creates, like it or not, as so many on here seem to raise it. Feels like a marketing o.g. to me and I would have thought the club would have seen that before entering into it.

          Better to do kids for a quid or vary the advance deals if we want more pre-matchday sales, e.g. people with kids tend to plan ahead that bit more. If you’ve just yourself to consider you are that bit more likely to do things at the last minute and be used to doing things that way. If the club appears to penalise you for this, you will feel alienated.

          • almajir says:

            I agree that it could have been marketed better. However, I am of the personal belief that people wouldn’t be happy if the discount wasn’t in operation as the price would remain the same. What people want are cheaper tickets full stop… and barring special offers, this isn’t feasible.

            One thing I am looking into is putting together a comprehensive survey with the timing set so that when the club came to deciding it’s policy ticketing-wise for next season the results would be freshly presented to them.

  • AR says:

    Did anyone else think that Bolton were a “nasty” side last night? The number of times that their players nudged ours just before the ball was coming down out of the air, and the ref let most of them go. Marlon King was manhandled many times without being given a foul, and if it wasn’t for the fact that we’ve already had 3 penalties this season, I would be mentioning the old Dave Bassett remark “my players have to be raped before we get a penalty”.

  • philanza says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the game on a bitter night for september.
    loving leroy lita ! always thought he was the sort of striker we’ve been missing for a while with pace and a good touch, hope we get extended loan.
    Murphy was faultless and saved us a few times, redmond well if he gets any better than he already is will be unplayable, no one could get near him with his trickery and pace.
    But a good performance by all. My only gripe was spectors distribution giving passes away on many occasions. I’m hoping as almijar said he will go to right back replacing caddis for a while. I think we still haven’t found that holding midfielder who can distribute well since fergy to sit along side fahey. spector gomis and mullins make stray passes far too often. Butland had a mixed bag again made some fantastic saves but also could have cost us, just inexperience.
    Really pleased Clarke is getting them playing again.


  • The Flying Pig says:

    Wade Elliott was my MOM although I take James point about him drifting in a little. There were two/three wonderful defence splitting passes as mentioend by other contributors. I thought Butland had a very solid second half too; quite a bit to deal with and it all stuck to him.

    Regarding Butland’s kicking, I think we were asking an awful lot for him to try and land it on a sixpence from perhaps 60 yards. To avoid Knight/Mills coming for the ball it really did have to be close to the line and so this made it hard for Jack to execute. What I liked was that they’s thought about the Bolton CH’s early domination and moved the best bet for us [King] to the touchlines to receive kicks [what was not so good was that they hadn’t thought about this earlier!]. Incidentally, Lita jumped really well for a lot of balls and wuld have trouble a shorter CH than Knight.

    Bolton have retained many of their PL players and I thought it was going to be really tough so I’m delighted with the three points.

    I’m not sure if Mullins’ replacement was injury-based, but we were certainly better with Fahey in the centre. Unless we have no other choices, i just cannot go with Mullins and Spector as a CM pairing in most games [away from home against top sides might be an exception] as neither is particularly comfortable in possession, they are both “win it and give it short” merchants, but they lack Fergie’s ability to offer himself for a pass.

    Incidentally, does anyone have an insight on this French chap from Southend who’s on trial?

  • chris says:

    seems to have an attitude
    refused to play for southend this season so they are looking to offload him
    had a week at ipswich on trial and when they asked for another week to look at him he refused, so now he is training with us.

  • Paulo says:

    What a match! For once, I honestly couldn’t put my finger on a man of the match, and I’m not too sure about Lita getting it. It seemed the whole team really showed some backbone and did their jobs (and then some). I can see a little bit of freedom being given to players in certain positions and the back four were really stopping Bolton, such a shame about Caddis having the shoulder injury, and Butland pulled off some quick thinking saves, but I could go through the list ..Murphy, Ibanez, KIng, Burke, Fahey ..it was a good match.
    Shame Owen Coyle thought he and his team were above us, he got a frosty reception for that at half time, but they did go for the dirty option and we were sadly being refereed by a bloke who kept waving advantage and play on ..and not noticing blatant fouls.
    But, we missed some blinding chances and if it wasn’t for our defense, we wouldn’t have been so lucky. It was a deserved win and a deserved 3 points. All I hope for now is that this belief carries on and this is the start of solid performances, ..as for a crowd of just over 14.5 thousand (for the last 2 home games now), it seems that if BCFC are not getting that money through the turnstiles, then what the hell can we spend???? It just doesn’t make sense. I could go on, but it is down to those who choose to spend their money at BCFC or not.
    Anyway, let’s hope that Saturday isn’t as bloody cold.

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    Good to see our opponents keep up the total football style that Big Sam started. Enough to make you think warmly of Neil Warnock. Their fans have had enough of Coyle and his excuses and it serves them right just like it did the Vile when they thought they were clever in getting McJudas. It was certainly a notable performance by the Blues to not go AWOL and to stick in there against a side with Bolton’s mentality and massive physical presence.

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