Blues caught out by Cottagers

Andy Munro on Blues’ draw with Fulham.

I suppose it could have been worse and Fulham could have left St Andrews with all three points but, realistically , we are beginning to have about as much chance of reaching the play offs as Villa have of avoiding the drop.

However, Blues only have themselves to blame by playing with only one out and out forward and one winger. This was compounded by the Blues left flank being ‘patrolled’ by the defensive minded Jonathan Grounds, leaving us with the balance equivalent of a man with one leg. The annoying feature is that the reason we struggle against lower teams is that by playing Gary Rowett’s favourite game of cat and mouse, we allow teams to grow in confidence by sitting back.

Thus it proved against Fulham who actually have some talented players despite their lowly position. With Blues, playing four midfielders, the one thing you would have expected was some clever, short interplay but instead the ball was too often lumped up to the lonely figure of Donaldson. The returning 6′ 5″ figure of Dan Burn must have loved every minute whilst their right back must have thought he was Ronaldo such was the space he enjoyed.

In the first period we failed to trouble the opposition keeper while Fulham could easily have taken a lead earlier with Scott Parker shimmying his way through only to be denied by a goal line clearance. Additionally, Spector didn’t help matters in defence by having the mother of all mares. Eventually, the inevitable happened when Blues defenders were dragged over to the right, schoolboy fashion, and found themselves outnumbered on the left with the end result a shot squirming under the exposed Kuscak.

Despite playing the same team from the restart, Rowett luckily soon saw the light when he changed things around bringing on Maghoma. With the Fulham side at last on the back foot, Caddis and Cotterill combined well and Captain ‘Marvellous’ Morrison was on hand to head home. We then hit the post, Caddis also forced their keeper into a fine save and Donaldson predictably blazed over from close in.

On the balance of play over the ninety minutes, we probably deserved to edge it but one wonders if Gary Rowett has become the Championship version of Tony Pullis. Defensive minded and playing not the most attractive brand of football. Is he, similarly, a manager who can ensure his sides amass a respectable tally of points (something admittedly we could only dream of under Clark) but never moves up the final gear? This is probably a harsh comment but……