Andy Munro reports on Blues’ draw with Preston.
What could have been a sound win turned into a disappointing draw as Blues were outhustled by a distinctly average Preston side.
Now it’s probably a truism that with only two or three games to go, midtable teams are already on the beach at Marbella or more likely these days, Martinique. However, this was the usual scenario of the Rowett cat and mouse tactics working against us as we gave a distinctly ordinary side time and space and therefore confidence instead of getting in their faces. The manager’s tactics, given our limited resources, are a sensible ploy against a top six side but otherwise are becoming increasingly questionable.
We actually started off well and if there’s some plus points to take out of this average performance, it’s Fabrini’s display when he was much more influential and played the major part in our first goal. He was, as usual, fouled a lot but these weren’t a case of him (allegedly) doing a Vardy and when he was brought down, he just got up and dusted himself down.
Both Blues’ goals were well taken by Donaldson and were the sort of close in chances that he’s often criticised for missing. In fact, he deserved a hat trick for another mammoth performance which yet again proved that Lafferty is surplus to requirements. Cotterill and Caddis were excellent again and Maghoma, albeit in fits and starts, impressed in his willingness to take on his man.
However, it was at the back that we looked unsure. In fact if it hadn’t been for the reinstated Kuscak making a couple of incredible Banks-like saves then we might have lost the game rather than just bemoaning the draw. Grounds was awful whilst the reliable Morrison had a comparatively average game. Shotton, alongside was outstanding only in his awful distribution and nervousness when pressed. The jury must be out as to whether he’s a significant improvement on Robbo and Spector. None of this was helped by our Dutch defensive shield limping off.
Lafferty came on to little effect and, whilst he’s not to blame for this, he just unbalanced the side. Preston also exposed our weakness at set pieces to earn their well deserved draw. Gary Rowett’s after-match summary suggested that he blamed Blues’ dropped points on the gung ho antics of Caddis (surprise surprise!) and Morrison. The counter argument is that near the end, we had several free kicks in dangerous positions but, at best, just had a couple of players in the box to capitalise. A disappointing and negative state of affairs.
Ninth or tenth position beckons….