Blues were brought down to earth with a bump on Easter Monday as they suffered a disappointing 3-2 home defeat to midlands rivals Wolves. The result also ended a three-game winning streak for Lee Clark’s charges.
Dean Saunders’ side raced into a three-goal first half lead, before Wade Elliott pulled two goals back for his side after the break. Elliott’s first came directly from the penalty spot and his second when he fired home the rebound after his stoppage time spot-kick was saved.
In fairness to Blues the scoreline was extremely harsh on them and but for some slack defending it was generally a positive performance.
Clark made a solitary change to his starting XI. Midfielder Keith Fahey missed out after failing to recover from the groin injury he picked up against Crystal Palace. In his absence, striker Wes Thomas returned to the starting line-up.
On a freezing afternoon at St. Andrew’s, Blues started the game on the front foot and were applying all the pressure in the opening minutes. With just five minutes played Nathan Redmond cut in from the right and tested Dorus De Vries with a low left-footed shot, which the Wolves keeper did well to save.
Wolves had their first attempt minutes later when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake managed to evade Curtis Davies in the Blues area and get a shot off from on the floor. But Jack Butland got his angles right and made a comfortable diving save.
Very much against the run of play Wolves took the lead on 20 minutes. Butland produced a fine diving save to deny David Davis, but he was only able to push the ball out as far as Stephen Hunt. Hunt took his time before picking his spot and firing a low strike past Butland into the back of the net.
Blues immediately returned to the offensive and Mitch Hancox saw a low grass-cutter of an effort go just the wrong side of the post, before Nikola Zigic fired over the bar.
On 27 minutes Blues found themselves two goals behind and they only had themselves to blame. A short throw-in on the right found David Davis with the ball. The Wolves man looked up before floating a deep cross into the Blues box, where an unmarked Ebanks-Blake rose to head home a simple chance past Butland.
Blues almost found themselves right back in the game just after the half-hour mark after they were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the Wolves box. Shane Ferguson stepped up and hit a great curling effort, but unlike his free kick which found the back of the net at Palace, the Irishman’s shot rebounded back off the post.
But disaster struck for Blues after 37 minutes when they conceded a third goal with less than half the match played
Butland was at fault as he up-ended Kevin Doyle in the box. Fortunately for the Blues keeper Doyle was heading away from goal and Butland was only cautioned for the challenge, rather than red-carded. Ebanks-Blake stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake as he sent the England under-21 international the wrong way.
Just before the break, Blues had a great shout for a penalty of their own when Zigic was clearly wrestled to the ground, but referee Boyeson waved his protests away.
Half-time: Blues 0 Wolves 3
Both sides emerged for the second half in a determined fashion and two Wolves players were cautioned in the opening minutes.
Blues found themselves with a foothold back in the game when they were finally awarded a penalty. The spot-kick resulted from a piece of play which saw Ravel Morrison’s overhead kick hit the post. As Thomas chased the rebound down he was tripped by Jamie O’Hara.
Following several minutes of medical treatment to goalkeeper De Vries, Elliott stepped up and sent him the wrong way from the spot.
Encouraged by their goal, Blues looked to push on and they went close to netting a second as Robinson’s header found Thomas, but the striker shot straight at De Vries.
Thomas then went even closer as he met Mitch Hancox’s cross with a glancing header. Although it evaded De Vries, it hit the post and bounced away to safety.
On 78 minutes, teenager Koby Arthur made his Blues debut as a replacement for Mitch Hancox on the same day that he signed his first professional contract.
Blues were really going all out to get something out of the game and the lively Thomas burst through on goal, but dragged his shot wide. Nathan Redmond should have done better when he found himself with the ball deep inside the Wolves box, but he failed to keep his chance down and blasted it over the top. It was to be the winger’s last action of the afternoon as he was replaced by Peter Lovenkrands.
Thomas then saw yet another chance go begging as he fired into the side netting.
Blues finally found the net for a second time deep into stoppage time, but it was too little, too late. Jack Robinson handled the ball in his own area and the referee pointed to the spot. Elliott saw his initial effort saved, before burying the rebound.