Sat 26 Sep 15
at 16:50 PM
Report: Blues 0 Rotherham 2
Matt Derbyshire came back to haunt his former side as Blues succumbed to a battling Rotherham outfit at St. Andrew’s.
The former Blues loanee opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark and the visitors wrapped up victory with a goal from Tony Andreu midway through the second period.
There was a little bit of an After The Lord Mayor’s Show feeling to the hosts’ display following their midweek local derby exertions, many of the key performers looking uncharacteristically subdued.
Demarai Gray missed Blues’ best opportunity just before the break when he blazed over from 10 yards. Had he scored then the afternoon may have turned out differently.
Rowett reverted to the same 11 that went five games unbeaten at the start of the league season. David Cotterill was fit to return after a heel problem whilst loanee Jon Toral came back for his first start in three, playing in behind striker Clayton Donaldson.
The visitors made a bright start with Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe testing Tomasz Kuszczak inside the opening minute with a volley after the ball dropped to him on the edge of the box. The Pole was equal to the effort.
Blues’ first dangerous moment came on five minutes when Toral latched onto a long ball forward and got in a low shot from 20 yards that Lee Camp saved down to his right.
The hosts started to enjoy more of the possession and Paul Caddis embarked on a weaving run that nearly took him through the Millers defence but the ball was just taken off his toes as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Gray was next to try his luck as he picked up the ball just outside the Rotherham area but his curling effort was always veering away from the target.
Midway through the first-half Rotherham enjoyed a good spell of pressure and Kuszczak was called into action twice to make good stops, the first from a fizzing Jonson Clarke-Harris effort and then a low curler from former Blues schoolboy Joe Newell.
The visitors stunned St. Andrew’s by taking the lead on 32 minutes. Richard Smallwood’s cross-field diagonal ball dropped nicely for Derbyshire and the ex-Blues man unleashed an impressive half-volley that fairly flew past Kusczcak.
Blues responded well, Toral producing a clever flick that teed up Donaldson inside the area. The big man showed neat control to turn the defender but sadly he slipped whilst in the process of shooting and his effort drifted well wide.
The hosts passed up a golden chance to equalise five minutes before the break. Cotterill careered down the left flank and his intelligent pull-back rolled perfectly into the path of the onrushing Gray but the teenager leant back and side-footed the ball a good five yards over the bar.
Whatever was said in the dressing room at half-time certainly stirred Blues into action after the re-start. Gray’s trickery winning an early corner, which was met by Michael Morrison but Andreu was in the right place to head clear.
The pressure was maintained as Gray raced down the right and crossed towards the far post but the ball was just a little too far in front of Donaldson and the striker couldn’t direct his header on target.
Blues were penning the visitors back and two more Cotterill set-pieces caused problems for Steve Evans’ side. The winger’s deep free-kick was cleared for a corner and from the resultant flag kick Toral looked to have headed the ball over the line but the referee ruled that he had impeded the goalkeeper.
Rotherham regained some momentum and produced two off-target shots, Andreu’s 25-yard free-kick floating well over and Odjidja-Ofoe lashing in a shot from just outside the area that was always rising.
Rowett’s response was to make a double change, Andy Shinnie and Jacques Maghoma replacing Maikel Kieftenbeld and Toral.
Sadly before the substitutes had a chance to make an impact on the game Blues found themselves two goals adrift. Gleeson miscontrolled the ball just inside his own area and Andreu took full advantage to crash a low shot past Kuszczak – the loanee’s first Millers goal since arriving from Norwich City.
Blues looked to hit back straightaway, Shinnie seeing his shot deflected wide. And soon after Cotterill laid the ball invitingly into the path of an unmarked Caddis on the right side of the box but the full-back got his shot horribly wrong and it bounced away for a throw-in.
Caddis looked to make amends with an overlapping run and cross that found Donaldson on the six-yard line but, under pressure, the striker wasn’t able to divert the ball goalwards. Rowett made his final substitution with 17 minutes left on the clock, Nicolai Brock-Madsen replacing Cotterill.
The Dane was involved in a good move that won his side a corner but from the resultant set-piece Rotherham broke and threatened to add a third with a three-on-three attack. But they couldn’t take advantage as Andreu sliced a drive well over.
Blues looked for a way back into the game with a corner creating havoc inside a packed visitors’ penalty area. The ball eventually landed at Morrison’s feet but the defender’s goalbound effort was blocked by the legs of Odjidja-Ofoe.
The visitors saw out the final few minutes to eke out a crucial win. Blues get an early chance to bounce back with Tuesday’s trip to Brentford, where a win would lift Rowett’s side into the top six.