Birmingham 3-0 Bristol City: player ratings, man of the match, heroes & villains as Robins humbled
Riley McGree opened the scoring in the first-half before Scott Hogan and Gary Gardner added more in the last half hour as defensive frailties continued for a defence which has kept just one clean sheet all season.
Prior to the match, Nigel Pearson made two changes with Zak Vyner and Jay DaSilva replacing Cameron Pring and Han-Noah Massengo, but it didn’t have the desired effect.
Early in the match, the team in red were on the back foot and they fell behind. From distance, McGree had a speculative shot which deflected off of Tomáš Kalas to flat foot goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.
On the half hour mark, Weimann almost scored on his return to Birmingham but was put off from the challenge of George Friend.
The half finished with just the one shot on target which was McGree’s strike, City did have five attempts but they all missed the mark.
There wasn’t much improvement in the second-half and Scott Hogan should have put the hosts two goals to the good but his narrow-angled shot whizzed past the line.
City’s best chance came on the hour mark as George Tanner caught the ball well but couldn’t keep his volley from Nahki Wells’ uncleared bicycle kick from going over the bar.
They fell further behind however, as they undone though by a route one goal. A long punt from Matija Šarkić’s long punt was headed on to Troy Deeney, flicking on to Hogan who tucked his shot past Bentley.
Another goal was to follow as Jordan Graham’s cross was met by Gardner who headed down past the despairing Bentley.
It wasn’t until the first minute of stoppage-time that the travelling faithful were treated to a shot on target as Cameron Pring tried his luck from distance. Ultimately though his shot was saved and Bristol left the Midlands empty-handed.
Dion Sanderson: The on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers man defended well against Bristol City’s attack.
Given their strengths are height, Sanderson is only six foot one but dealt well with the aerial presence of Chris Martin.
Despite his strong first-half showing, he was forced to withdraw from the game at half-time failing to run off an injury sustained after a collision with Jay DaSilva.
Jordan Graham: A strong showing for the 26-year-old who caused a number of problems for the Robins defence.
Time and time again throughout the evening, he was afforded the time and space to whip crosses in which a number of times found a blue-shirted player.
Riley McGree: Every Blues attack went through the Australian international.
With a pass success rate of 88%, he knew when to play a pass, highlighting his quality.
McGree opened the scoring and had two other opportunities to score. Birmingham will do well to keep a player of his ability when his loan expires in January.
Daniel Bentley: Perhaps unfair but you could sense the opening goal was going in from how he was positioned.
He wasn’t commanding his area as well and there were a number of crosses floated in the first-half which caused problems.
As a goalkeeper it is up to him to marshal his defenders and make them aware of the danger as he is the last line of defence and sees all.
For the second goal, perhaps he could have made himself bigger to put Hogan from scoring but his defence didn’t help him out much.
Gardner’s goal ultimately meant that Bentley had to be included as you can’t concede three goals and come away unscathed.
Nahki Wells: Not the greatest performance tonight for a player who can do better. As a striker, he registered, you have to put yourself out a bit more. It was a quiet night in front of goal for Wells though with just one shot and he was also dispossessed on two occasions.
It came as no surprise that he was withdrawn for academy product Alex Scott, who was given an opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the starting team.
Birmingham City (3-5-2): Sarkic, 7 Graham 8, Roberts 7, Friend, 7 Sanderson 7, (Dean, 56;7), Bela 7, Gardner 7, Sunjic 7, McGree 8, Hogan 8, Deeney 8, (Jutkiewicz, 72;7)
Bristol City (4-3-1-2): Bentley 5, Tanner, 5, Vyner 5, Kalas 5, Atkinson 6, Dasilva 5, Pring, 82;6), James 6(Massengo, 53;6), Bakinson 5 Weimann 6, Wells 5 (Scott, 82), Martin 5.
Man of the Match
Troy Deeney: The experienced front-man showed his Premier League class this evening with two assists. The first goal was more McGree’s work but for his second, he used his power and strength to outmuscle the defender.
There is one more game for each side before we head into the final international period of the calendar year.
It’s another trip to the Midlands for Bristol, who this time around will play Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena, unlike last year when the Sky Blues were ground-sharing with Birmingham.
It’s another home game for Birmingham on Saturday, when they welcome Reading, who will be without their manager Veljko Paunović after he tested positive for COVID-19.