Andy Munro sees Blues reinforce their promotion credentials.
Well, they came swaggering up from Shepherds Bush into Small Heath but the moneyed Cockney wideboys left with their tales distinctly between their legs.
Mind you, I’m not sure whether I’m still suffering a bad case of the Lee Clarks or conversely Gary Rowett Aftershock Syndrome but, to be frank, I would have taken a draw before the game given Rangers’ sparkling assets.
However, they looked decidedly average in the first half despite going ahead through an unfortunate deflection. Nobody can deny their talent, attacking-wise, but defensively they were all at sea as Messrs Maghoma, Gray and particularly Donaldson tormented them. Strangely enough though, our equaliser came from a set piece after a succession of dead ball kicks which were even deader once in play given their complete lack of quality – Cotterill must have been wincing from his place in the stands.
However, following an unnecessary foul on Demi Gray, the free kick was whipped in for that prolific goalscorer, Robbo, to power the ball home. For the rest of the first half it was fairly even with our defence looking fairly solid given the array of talent facing them. Mind you, watching Robbo trying to beat Jay Emmanuel Thomas in the air was the sort of physical mismatch which, in boxing terms, would have been like Frankie Gavin taking on Vladimir Klitschkov.
In the second period, Blues started much the stronger with Gleeson and Klefdenbeld bossing the game with some clever passing moves. Gray and Maghoma looked dangerous on the wings and Clayton Donaldson gave the opposition defence no peace. So much so, that he was blatantly fouled as he went for a cross and up stepped our Bolton legend to put us into the lead with a pinpoint penalty.
After that Blues saw the game out reasonably comfortably with Otabor and Shinnie coming on to get a chance to show what they can do. If I was a curmudgeon, I might criticise the introduction of Shinnie to close the game up as he is somewhat lightweight and lacking in pace, classy though he is. I’m not sure what he brought to the game and he failed to convert a more than decent cross which a taller and more physical Toral would have undoubtedly have snapped up.
Still, a win against the Millionaire Set can only be applauded and shows how far Blues have come since the dark days of Geordie Boy.