Birmingham 1 West Brom 1: Jota scores but misses penalty as Blues still without a win this season
IT is so easy to see why Birmingham are in such pickle right now.
Forget the fact they have fallen foul of the EFL’s financial fair play rules, are under a transfer embargo and face a potential points deduction.
That is of course bad enough.On the pitch they cannot hit the proverbial barn’s door in front of goal and make too many costly mistakes.
Boss Garry Monk has spoken a lot about the unity and team spirit in his squad despite the off-field problems.
And there is no doubting his men leave everything on the field.
They produced an excellent performance and had it been a boxing fight, the referee would have stopped it and awarded the Blues the victory.
But they are lacking real quality in the final third.
We are now seven games into the season and the Blues still have no recorded a single win.
They were completely bashing up West Brom at St Andrew’s. The Baggies were struggling against the Blues’ intensity, pace and power.
And it was no surprise when the hosts took a 26th-minute lead when Gary Gardner’s cross was headed back across goal by Lukas Jutkiewicz for Joto to scramble home at the near post.
Then literally a minute later they were awarded a penalty and a chance to really take control of the game.
Kyle Bartley raised an arm for handball in the box for ref Andrew Madley to point to the spot.
But Jota – who had an awful run-up – saw his poorly-taken penalty saved by Sam Johnstone.
Then came a massive mistake to let the Baggies off the hook and level in the 38th minute.
Matt Phillips was struggling to get the better of Kristian Pedersen, who brilliantly was holding him up.
The Danish left-back then won the ball but then gave it away and Phillips pounced to fire past Lee Camp.
Birmingham should have been 2-0 up but found themselves level and then came the Adams miss – volleying miles over when it was easier to hit the target.
Jota had earlier in the game fired a tame shot straight at Johnstone while Lukas Jutkiewicz miscued a shot high and wide.
But the Baggies did also have a great chance to open the scoring themselves when Matt Phillips played a low cross into the path of Dwight Gayle, who flicked the ball on but it flew into the side-netting.
After the break, Birmingham showed more attacking intent.
And Adams was again out of luck when he hit a solid effort, which was this time brilliantly saved by Johnstone.
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But – in what was turning out to be an end-to-end game – Birmingham keeper Camp did well to deny a Harvey Barnes effort.Adams did well down the right wing and swung a cross to the far post and Jacques Maghoma flung himself towards the ball but connected with a flailing arm rather than his head to put it wide when unmarked from just eight yards out.
Then a brilliant piece of skill saw Jota race on to the ball and he drove forward before wildly shooting off target.
Barnes has been excellent for West Brom this season and both Maikel Kieftenbeld and Harlee Dean found themselves both booked for hacking him down.
The game opened up in the closing stages and the Baggies almost snatched victory when Gayle crashed a shot against the crossbar with Barnes’ follow-up shot superbly saved by Camp.
Had the Baggies scored then it would have been a smash-and-grab that even the Great Train Robbers would have been proud of.
So Monk perhaps should be grateful for small mercies at least.