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Blues player ratings vs West Brom: Wolves pair impress but Blues lose again

Birmingham City’s search for a win, a goal and some of their early season momentum continues after a narrow defeat at The Hawthorns.

Blues were beaten by Karlan Grant’s 75th minute strike and have now not won in six matches, nor scored in more than seven hours of football.

They do at least head to Huddersfield Town on Wednesday with more defensive solidity than they have shown in previous weeks.

Lee Bowyer made the changes he threatened after the 3-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest before the international break.

Out went Ryan Woods and Jeremie Bela, as did captain Harlee Dean. Gary Gardner joined midfield while Dion Sanderson and George Friend were brought into a back five.

Blues’ plan was to frustrate Albion – which they did in a dour first half, which ended 0-0 and in which the ball spent most of the time in the air.

Conor Townsend’s long range drive was the only noteworthy shot of the period and forced a flying 15th minute tip over from Matija Sarkic.

The visitors broke from the resultant corner as referee Jeremy Simpson played a good advantage and Tahith Chong burst away and also won a corner.

This time the delivery broke to Kristian Pedersen but his shot hit Gardner.

Midway through the period Lukas Jutkiewicz hooked a first time effort from 25 yards which skidded through to Sam Johnstone.

And two minutes before the break Blues’ captain glanced a header from Marc Roberts’ throw in over the bar.

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A minute into the second half Bowyer replaced Maxime Colin with Jeremie Bela at right wing back.

The Angolan responded by breaking down the touchline, in behind the home defence and crossing for Hogan who totally unmarked eight yards out went with the wrong foot and made little contact.

The striker did much better just after the hour though when he made a run down the left, arced past Semi Ajayi and pulled back for Ivan Sunjic. Ten yards out the Croatian side-footed first time off the crossbar.

The deadlock was finally broken with a quarter of an hour to when Blues switched off at a throw-in and Grant found the time and space to shoot low and hard past Sarkic.

Albion would have made it 2-0 but for a super save from Sarkic to deny Kyle Bartley.

FORMATION

5-3-2

PLAYERS

Sarkic 7

Produced one good flying save to deny Townsend in the first half, other than that a pretty quiet opening period. Looked strong under crosses and had very few shots to save – other than Grant’s which flew past him. Pulled off a worldie to deny Bartley at the end.

Colin 6.5

Coped well with the bombardment of diagonals in the first half, surprisingly taken off very early in the second period.

Sanderson 7.5*

Deployed on the right of the three centre backs and played well. Quick on the cover, strong in the air and good on the ball.

Roberts 6.5

Slotted capably into the middle of the back three. One error in the second half when he gave the ball away in a dangerous area. Other than that did what he needed to do well.

Matt Phillips of West Bromwich Albion takes on George Friend of Birmingham City

Friend 7

Recalled to the side for just his second Championship start of the season. Acquitted himself as you might expect an experienced professional would.

Pedersen 6

Moved to wing back – and played it with much more emphasis on defence than Jeremie Bela. Kept his side battened down but not much delivery into the box.

Gardner 6.5

Back after suspension and justified his selection with a committed display.

Sunjic 6

Had Blues’ best chance but could only hit the bar ten yards out. Worked hard with his customary energy and really hassled the Albion midfield. But he’s got to be hitting the target and not the woodwork.

Chong 7

Blues’ one attacking outlet in the first half when he teased the Albion defence with his mobility and energy. Once more given the rough stuff whenever he threatened to get away.

Jutkiewicz 6.5

Won everything in the air in a dominant first hour including, unusually, a few free kicks. Might have done better with Roberts’ long throw just before half time.

Hogan 6

Quiet early on but came alive in the second half when he set up Sunjic after a good run and continued to press well.

Scott Hogan of Birmingham City battles for the ball with Jake Livermore of West Bromwich Albion
Scott Hogan of Birmingham City battles for the ball with Jake Livermore of West Bromwich Albion

SUBSTITUTES

Bela (for Colin, 47) 6 Bright at times but often uncomfortable in defence

Aneke (for Hogan, 78) N/A

Graham (for Friend, 83)

Not used: Woods, Dean, Trueman, Deeney

West Brom (3-4-3): Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Clarke, Townsend; Livermore, Mowatt (Molumby 62), Grant (Reach 90), Robinson (Hugill HT), Phillips. Not used: Button, Kipre, Bryan, Snodgrass

GOALS

West Brom: Grant (75)

Blues:

Referee: Jeremy Simpson



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