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Birmingham City 2-1 Wolves


By Tom Bason
April 11 2015

Wolves’ promotion chances took a blow with a 2-1 defeat at local rivals Birmingham City. Benik Afobe put Wolves ahead, a lead which only lasted four minutes as Robert Kiernan equalised. The winning goal came on the hour mark, as promising winger Demarai Gray broke away to settle the game. 

- Kenny Jackett selected the same starting XI that defeated Leeds United on Bank Holiday Monday, with the only change coming with Michael Jacobs' inclusion on the bench, retaining his customary 'substitute least likely to come on' position. I watched this game from quite a low position, in the corner behind the goal, so it wasn't always easy to get an idea of shape. But Bakary Sako seemed to play most of the game as a third central midfielder, relying on Scott Golbourne to provide the width down the left flank. It wasn't until late on, when we were chasing the game that Sako really attacked Paul Caddis in the Birmingham right back slot. We've played this way before, most notably in the defeat of Fulham, with the big difference being that today we were supposed to be the team breaking open Birmingham's stubborn defence. Too much of our play today was in the middle channel of the pitch and was reasonably easy for Birmingham to defend against. 

- Most of the game today was scrappy, with both teams having spells of pressure, but neither able to really grab hold of the game. Jackett seems to have decided on a system where we are not afraid to concede possession in the middle, instead relying on our forwards to outscore the opposition. With Birmingham having that extra man in midfield, it was difficult for Kevin McDonald and Jack Price to get a hold of the ball in midfield. McDonald still had his customary flashes of inspiration (one through ball to Afobe was almost inch-perfect), but was too often playing the ball when under pressure, and so seemed to give the ball away too often, although his pass completion rate today was actually above his season average.

- I thought one of the issues today was the performance of Nouha Dicko. Firstly, let me say that he did absolutely brilliantly for Benik Afobe’s opener. It looked like Dicko had lost the ball on a couple of occasions, but his tenacity kept him going and he laid the ball on a plate for Afobe. And I think it should be noted, that with McDonald and Price not using the ball as well as they have recently, the service into Dicko was generally poor. But when the ball was fed into him, he inevitably failed to hold it up. Too often, the ball was played into Dicko with his back to goal, and bounced off him. At times, the game was calling out for a striker who was able to hold the ball up and ease some of the pressure from the midfield.

- This does lead to a second point – I wrote last season that Kenny Jackett’s biggest failing was his inability to change a match, and today was a great example of this. The side that Jackett picked wasn’t working overly well, particularly in the final hour when we should have been building more pressure. Jackett made one change, the removal of James Henry for Rajiv van La Parra and this change wasn’t exactly a surprise; one has replaced the other in the last four games. I’m not van La Parra’s biggest fan, but I thought that both he and Henry did ok, yet there was inevitability about this change, and the fact there would be no others. Given we were behind for thirty minutes, and had only one more shot than Birmingham in that period, it was clear we needed something else. I thought Dominic Iorfa could have come off for van La Parra, and dropped Henry into full back, throwing caution to the wind. Iorfa got forward well, but I’m not sure his feet are always connected to the rest of his body when he gets into the penalty area. Yes, this could have left Henry exposed against David Cotterill or Demarai Gray, but equally, it could have prompted Birmingham to bring on another defensive minded player. Equally, we had a player like Michael Jacobs, something of an unknown quantity in this league, but potentially has the ability to change a game. If nothing else, Jacobs is superb in the air, and would have added an extra target for some of the wasted crosses (nine in the final half hour)

- But, while I was frustrated at Jackett’s inaction in the last 30 minutes, but it was not as frustrating at conceding two poor goals again. The first was a scrappy goal from an under hit corner, which firstly Ikeme should have dealt with an awful lot better, and then defenders failed to clear the ball. The second was even worse, as Scott Golbourne initially did very well to get between Demarai Gray and the ball, but then failed to really do anything, leaving Gray one on one with Ikeme. Add these two poor goals, to the three we conceded on Monday, and it’s quite a worrying little run we’re on. From keeping back-to-back clean sheets against Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County with Tomasz Kuszczak in goal, we’ve now conceded seven goals in the three games since Carl Ikeme returned to the starting line-up.

- I was asked by Birmingham City to write the player profiles for today’s match day programme, presumably on the back of writing these match reports. If you weren’t at the game, or didn’t buy a programme, here they are in all their glory:

 

Wolves profiles 1 Wolves profiles 2

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Birmingham City 2-1 Wolves
Wolves (IP Logged)
11/04/2015 20:18
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:04:18:16:25:52 by toomb.

 
Re: Birmingham City 2-1 Wolves
petewolf (IP Logged)
11/04/2015 22:31
iofa's a good young player, but mat doc might be a better bet and perhaps we should have brought doyle on to hold up the ball a bit better,but these are all excuses, we were shite today and got what we deserved, brum wanted it more than us,even though they had nothing to play, for which is very poor on our part

 
Re: Birmingham City 2-1 Wolves
hammerstein (IP Logged)
11/04/2015 23:00
Got to a it since ikeme has come back . We are conceding goals. I'm not saying they are all his fault. As ikeme a strength was crosses and shots. I think why change it.

 
Re: Birmingham City 2-1 Wolves
Risca TM (IP Logged)
12/04/2015 12:37
Thanks Tom. Kudos on the player profiles request too. Well deserved.

 
Re: Birmingham City 2-1 Wolves
Cheshire wolf (IP Logged)
13/04/2015 12:37
Fame at last Tom!! Well done.

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