Wed 04 Mar 15
at 21:45 PM
The Report: Blues 1 Blackpool 0
Andy Shinnie’s first-half header was enough to see off struggling Blackpool and ruin Lee Clark’s St. Andrew’s return.
In a game that was generally devoid of much quality, it was one moment of enterprise by new loan recruit Robert Tesche and the awareness of Shinnie to run onto the German’s lofted pass that proved the difference.
Clark’s rock-bottom Seasiders did put up a creditable fight and Blues were indebted to two smart second-half saves from Darren Randolph to make sure of the points.
Tesche was thrown straight into the fray in place of the suspended Stephen Gleeson as the only change made by Gary Rowett to the side that beat Brentford on Saturday.
It was the visitors that made the brighter start with Jamie O’Hara testing Randolph early on with a stinging volley but fortunately it flew straight into the midriff of the Blues keeper. At the other end Shinnie played a neat one-two with Demarai Gray but the Scot’s first-time effort drifted well over the bar.
Blues struggled to find any rhythm or fluency during the opening quarter and it was Clark’s men that continued carve out the clearer opportunities. Dom Telford’s 20-yard shot took a deflection but veered only narrowly wide of Randolph’s right-hand upright. And from the resultant corner new Blackpool loan signing Miles Addison, who linked up with tonight’s visitors only a few hours before kick-off, rose highest to power in a header that fizzed only narrowly over.
Blues’ first really threatening moment came from a hopeful punt forward by Paul Caddis that caused problems for the Blackpool defence. Clayton Donaldson won possession and played the ball out wide to Cotterill. The winger returned the ball in the direction of his striking team-mate but the Blues number nine couldn’t get any direction on his shot and it flew well over.
Gary Madine then had Randolph backtracking with a 25-yard chip that floated just over the Blues keeper’s crossbar. The action swung to the opposite end with Tesche trying his luck from a similar distance but his daisy-cutter was always veering wide of the left post.
Nathan Delfouneso produced a lively run on 33 minutes, turning Paul Caddis on the far left touchline and then careered in towards the edge of the area before unleashing a curling effort that was always on the rise and didn’t trouble Randolph. That inspired Blues to their brightest moment of the game so far as Caddis raced down the flank and put in a terrific cross towards Donaldson but Blues’ top scorer steered his header just past the post.
Blues made the breakthrough on 36 minutes and new boy Tesche played a pivotal role. The German chipped the ball over the top of a static Blackpool defence and Shinnie sensed the opportunity and ghosted in to head over the onrushing Parish, who was well out of his goal. The ball bounced into the empty net to hand the hosts the advantage.
Blackpool, to their credit, responded and created a couple of dangerous moments before the half-time interval. Defouneso engineered a shooting opportunity from just inside the area but his half-volley went a couple of yards wide. The former Aston Villa man was at the centre of the action again when he skipped into the penalty area and cut the ball back for Telford but the teenager’s shot was deflected wide. Addison was again first to the resultant corner but his header was always veering wide of the target.
Three minutes into the second-half and Gray was halted in full flight by a cynical foul from Niall Maher, who received the game’s first yellow card. The Blues winger would have had a good opportunity to run in towards goal but instead it was left to Cotterill to swing in a free-kick. The set-piece resulted in a clash between David Davis and Tom Aldred which left both men needing treatment. The Blues man was found to be the guilty party by the officials, although replays suggested that Aldred had raised his elbow when going in for the challenge.
Neither team produced a notable scoring opportunity during the opening 15 minutes of the second period. Just after the hour visiting sub Tom Barkhuizen had the chance to make an immediate impact just moments after coming on when the ball dropped to him inside the area but he snatched at the chance and sliced his effort well over.
Gray got the chance to run in from the left but after cutting inside Maher he failed to make a good contact with his shot and it bounced harmlessly into the arms of Parish.
Madine was presented with a golden opportunity to level the game on 66 minutes when the ball bounced through to him on the six-yard line. Fortunately Randolph was alive to the danger and with a spread-eagled leap he was able to parry away the striker’s shot.
The visitors continued to look dangerous going forward and Barkhuizen had another opportunity when he raced onto David Perkin’s defence-splitting pass. The 21-year-old, making his first league appearance of the season, was through one-on-one with Randolph but at a narrow angle. The Blues keeper came to his side’s rescue again with another great stop.
Gray had a chance to put the game to bed when he weaved his way into the area from the left and crashed in a low shot that Parish did well to claim low down. Blues were not being given a moment’s peace by a determined Blackpool side and Jonathan Spector did well to block Madine’s shot which otherwise would have severely tested Randolph.
Blues sub Wes Thomas unleashed a dipping half-volley from 20 yards late on which flew only narrowly over the target. The visitors could have finished the game with ten man when O'Hara was involved in another unsavoury moment when he seemed to stamp on Donaldson but the former Wolves man went unpunished for his indiscretion.
Fortunately one goal was all that was needed to rack up back-to-back home wins and send the St. Andrew’s faithful home happy. The victory takes Blues onto 45 points, beating their overall tally from last season. Rowett’s men are safely ensconced in mid-table with their Championship status for next season looking more and more secure.