Blues 3 Sheffield Wednesday 1 .. Ron's Report

By Richard Barker
Last updated : 27 October 2008

All the goals came in an eventful first-half, with Garry O'Connor striking twice and Kevin Phillips once for Blues, whilst Etienne Esajas had very, very briefly got Wednesday back on level terms.

Alex McLeish selected the same side as Tuesday night when Blues had seen off Crystal Palace. Wednesday came into the game on the back of mixed results in Yorkshire derbies, having beaten Sheffield United last weekend, they'd then lost at Barnsley in the week. They also had a well-documented injury list, and you could tell - they were poor, particularly defensively.

Blues actually started a little sloppily, but soon found their feet and it didn't take long for them to take the lead. A Seb Larsson free-kick from out on the right was superbly met by O'Connor who beat Lee Grant at his near post with his head to put Blues 1-0 up.

Just as Blues fans in the stadium would have been saying, "finally - an early goal, maybe now we'll go on to thump someone", it was 1-1. Wednesday won a free-kick in a dangerous area on the edge of the box, Esajas was teed up, and he hit an absolute screamer that Maik Taylor didn't even move for. It led to a bit of an inquest in the Blues defence, but in truth, it was a stunning strike.

So, just as Blues fans in the stadium would have been saying, "for God's sake - we get the lead and just when we could have kicked on and got a second, we've let it slip", it was 2-1 to Blues. A move literally from the kick-off culminated in O'Connor and Phillips swapping passes inside the Wednesday area, before O'Connor hit a right-footed shot. That was blocked, but O'Connor did well to adjust his feet and hit the rebound into the far corner with his left foot. It was quite a few minutes...

It didn't really stop there either, with Blues continuing to dominate. Just to illustrate how poor Wednesday were defensively, Phillips (aged 47 and with a top speed of 4mph) kept outpacing Tommy Spurr and Richard Wood with runs through the channels. Blues kept finding him with through balls, and the surprise was that Phillips kept fluffing his chances.

Eventually though, you knew he'd take one of his chances, and so it proved. The again excellent Franck Queudrue threaded a superb ball through the Wednesday defence, and Phillips cut in from the inside right channel and fired past Lee Grant to put Blues 3-1 ahead not long before half-time.

The second half followed a similar theme, but Blues were unable to further extend their lead. They did, however, keep going, which is something that they haven't always done when holding a lead this season, and so that was good to see. Wednesday did have a chance when Leon Clarke (who was a handful) took advantage of one of a number of Maik Taylor errors (he looked very poor, for some reason) and clipped the ball past the 'keeper, only for Liam Ridgewell to calmly clear off the line.

Blues were also a little hindered by the other Taylor (yes, sorry, I just had to), who on numerous occasions brought the ball out of defence, played a poor ball and as such got caught out of position and exposed the defence. Yes, Blues played well and thoroughly deserved the win, but the defence did look a little more shaky than it has done of late at times, with the Taylors both particularly tentative.

Wednesday had Jimmy Smith sent off for catching Stuart Parnaby with a flailing arm, and that was that really. Blues cruised to the full-time whistle and Wednesday gave up. In the end fans of both teams were leaving in their thousands as the game just petered out. The travelling Wednesday fans had made a point throughout the game of highlighting yet another poor attendance at St Andrews. I agree, in some respects - the way that Blues are going should really be attracting more fans, ticket prices aren't actually that excessive in comparison with the rest of the division, and for most games so far, there've been offers on anyway. Still though, it seems that fans aren't convinced and won't come back. It's a shame, because Blues are currently in the midst of the best start in their history, are winning most games, are playing some decent football at times, and are pretty much the strongest side in the division.

Still, it was a little hypocritical of Wednesday fans to point out such things and sing songs referring to empty seats, when last Sunday in their "massive" local derby against Sheffield United, Hillsborough was "packed to the rafters" to the tune of an attendance some 10,000 less than its capactiy. And 5,000 of them were United fans.

For Blues though, another good result and another positive display. Cameron Jerome again started on the left, but then seemed to be given more of a free role with Larsson tucking inside, and again, the flexibility in the Blues system helped them play some fluid football, assisted by the excellent full-backs pushing on again. All in all, not a lot you could complain about, really. It's just a shame that there's not more there at the moment to realise that there's not a lot to complain about.

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