Andy Munro on Blues’ draw with Blackburn.
Gary Rowett saw this as a confidence building match and this was a sound objective after two morale busting defeats on the bounce. Consequently, the side was set up to be solid with the only difference being that there was a slight attacking nuance with Andy Shinnie named in the starting line up. Unfortunately, the term ‘nuance’ just about sums up Shinnie’s current effect on Blues attacking ‘prowess’. In fact the general preference that GR has for the peripheral Shinnie over the more physical Toral is a mystery of Bermuda Triangle proportions.
Either way, the first half was a turgid affair with both sides seemingly frightened of their own shadows. In fact, with my lounge being redecorated at home, I was tempted to leave the match early so I could go home and watch the paint dry. Perhaps the only saving grace was the dominance of Blues central defence over the much vaunted Jordan Rhodes with Spector being particularly impressive on his return. Luckily for Blues, there was no other threat with Blackburn looking like the sort of team of wingless wonders of which Sir Alf himself would have been proud.
However, the second half was like the proverbial breath of fresh air as Blues at last got their act together. Gray started to play in a way that justified some of the hype that surrounds him while Cotterill was a non stop bundle of energy and unlucky not to score. Incidentally, Cotterill received the Man of the Match award something that was heavily criticised on Radio WM – although that could be said to be a back-handed compliment! Not always a fans favourite, he never hides and is not only an asset in open play, he remains (lamentably) our only player capable of taking consistently decent dead ball kicks.
The introduction of Toral over the ineffective Shinnie also galvanised things as apart from his physical presence, his intelligent interplay with Donaldson is a joy to behold. Certainly, by the end of the game, we deserved to edge the three points but it was not to be. There were still some plus points, most notably an excellent, confidence boosting second half, a clean sheet and an impressive return from Spector together with a great cameo from sub Toral. We’re still in the mix so things still look promising, particularly given our circumstances.