Blues deepen

As the returning Richard Stearman lay prostrate following an elbow to his chin just 5 minutes in to a vital game for both sides, the usual early minutes dispensation rules meant Harlee Dean stayed on the pitch and, thankfully, Town were spared the ignominy of failing to beat 10 men.

They failed to beat a full complement too, but at least they had the consolation of the reprieved Dean presenting Campbell with the opening goal for a lead which, of course, they proceeded to surrender.

It was an advantage the Terriers did not deserve.

Indeed, after a contest pregnant with palpable tension, comically poor passing and lacking quality in all areas it could be argued that neither side deserved the point each took to marginally improve their survival chances.

Birmingham, fresh from a confidence boosting victory at the weekend, carried a little more flair in the first half than the hosts though it rarely translated in to the final third and scoring opportunities and most of the fabulously inept executions of passing came from their feet.

Unrelentingly dire, the first half past with little of note to report. Birmingham threw a few crosses in which caused virtually no concern while Town’s laboured ventures forward scarcely troubled the visitors until an incorrectly awarded free kick was blazed over a wall positioned about 2 yards closer than it should have been by Mbenza.

Both sides looked every inch the relegation candidates they have become. Few risks were taken and both appeared paralysed by doubt. With fluency absent, Town relied on Campbell’s willingness to work Birmingham’s back line while City, unsurprisingly, looked for Jutkiewicz long and often.

Improvement came there none after the break. Mbenza disappeared, Pipa’s worryingly poor form continued and O’Brien gave away possession at will. Vallejo was unable to spark any reaction from deep as the game drifted towards a stultifying stalemate.

Just after the hour, however, a goal arrived out of the blue. Dean’s fluffed attempted clearance of a nothing ball in to the box fell nicely to Town’s lone striker who hit it very sweetly from just outside the area. The quality of the strike was entirely out of keeping with the dirge which preceded it.

The visitors’ equaliser came along immediately and it’s ugliness was far more fitting.

A corner from the right beat Campbell’s near post cover, dropped and died in front of Roberts who gleefully converted. Though later inquest may point fingers, there was a freakishness about the goal which summed up Town’s recent fortune. Not that they earned any luck in this fixture.

For much of the rest of the game, Birmingham looked more likely to grab a winner as Town became nervy. They weren’t helped by Corberán’s strange decision to replace Vallejo with Scott High. 

The Spaniard had produced little of influence but does exude calm on the ball while the youngster looked lost and his inexperience rather shone out. To his credit, he made a good tackle late on to stop a dangerous Birmingham foray.

Towards the end of the seemingly interminable struggle, Town got on top but a series of balls in to the box from corners, a free kick and open play were easily dealt with despite the presence of Sanogo who couldn’t get in to the game in his 15 minutes in place of Campbell.

The best opportunity was provided by Bacuna, probably the best of a bad Town bunch on the night, who burst in to the area but was unable to hit a colleague with his lay back.

It was Birmingham, however, who came closest to grabbing a winner as Sarr inadvertently nodded on a long throw in to the path of Hogan who flicked over.

The final flurries of action could not disguise the worrying lack of quality, cohesion or purpose and the final whistle came as a blessing with both sides relieved at least not to have lost. For Town, pressure continues to weigh down the team and management and there were few signs of any upturn in fortunes on the horizon.

With a rampant Cardiff due next, Town’s plight remains precarious and their future worryingly reliant on others’ failings. 

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