Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Birmingham 0 Fulham 2

Birmingham City began this match needing a victory to be virtually guaranteed of safety. After 92 minutes of utter wretchedness against a side supposedly dreaming of sandy beaches and soon-to-be-sipped Mai Tais, they ended it fully immersed in the relegation battle. Brede Hangeland supplied the goals, but Birmingham have themselves to blame.

The best thing that could be said about Alex McLeish’s side was that they managed to keep 11 men on the pitch – that is until Alexander Hleb was carried away injured with over ten minutes to play and McLeish, who had used all three substitutes, was unable to summon a replacement.

The result of such miserable individual performances – the normally reliable Roger Johnson deserves special mention – is that Birmingham are only outside the relegation zone on the basis of a better goal difference than Blackpool. One goal to be precise.

It was either that the players had an attack of nervousness at the realisation that relegation is too close for comfort, or it was the product of a bunch of players who had fully expected Fulham to roll over, and who had therefore assumed safety would be easily achieved.

Judging by the self-absorbed way in which Ben Foster announced he was taking a break from England duty last week rather than wait until survival was actually sewn up, you would guess at it being the latter.

Had the goalkeeper been focusing on his upcoming match instead of making pointless press releases, the 28 year-old might not have supplied the sort of clanger which suggests he has done Fabio Capello a favour.

It was a bizarre episode, beginning with a relatively obscure kick from Mark Schwarzer, who booted the ball long from out of his hand towards the distant Birmingham area. For some reason Foster was far from his goal, and when Martin Jiranek ducked out of a header, the ball bounced high and over him. To be fair, it was a blunder of Jiranek’s creation and Foster partially redeemed himself by desperately clawing the ball out for a corner, but his positioning suggested he was day-dreaming.

Before an utterly perplexed Schwarzer could shake the notion that only a centimetre of latex foam had come between him and his first goal in 17 years as a professional, Jonathan Greening had swung in a useful corner and Hangeland had bounded into the six yard box as though he had springs embedded in his boots instead of studs, and headed the ball down into floor before it bounced into the roof of the net.

One thing that you can usually rely on with Birmingham is bloody-minded defending, but Greening almost provided a second on the half hour mark when Lee Bowyer conceded a free-kick. Bobby Zamora, the closest thing to him his shadow, was given free rein to head against the far post. Birmingham had still not had a look at the Fulham goal.

Quarter of an our in the company of McLeish ought to have had an effect but the back four continued to short circuit. Steve Sidwell drove against the post straight after the resumption and Zamora had a header cleared off the line a minute later by Barry Ferguson. The ball only went as far as Hangeland. The defender raised his left leg high enough to bring a tear to a ballerina’s eye and side-footed into the far corner.

Birmingham now go into the final day with their future up in the air.

Blackpool play Manchester United, but it will likely be a weakened one. Birmingham will need to take three points against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Just down the road from Wembley, the scene of their Carling Cup victory, Birmingham will fight for their future.

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.