Blues suffered a frustrating single goal defeat to a struggling Charlton Athletic side at St. Andrew’s on Saturday.
The biggest disappointment of the afernoon twas that Gary Rowett’s side failed to find the back of the net despite creating a host of really good chances.
The goal arrived against the run of play just after the hour-mark, when Johnnie Jackson powered home a thumping header.
Blues had been dealt a major injury blow ahead of the kick-off with the news that talismanic striker Clayton Donaldson would miss the game because of a groin injury which he sustained whilst away on international duty with Jamaica.Donaldson’s omission followed a 62-game unbroken run of league appearances for Blues’ top scorer.
With Donaldson out, it meant a starting debut for young Danish striker Nicolai Brock-Madsen who was spearheading the attack.
On what was a bitterly cold afternoon at St. Andrew's, Blues made a positive start and had their first sight on goal within two minutes when Jacques Maghoma tested Charlton keeper Stephen Henderson with a low strike, but it was comfortably saved by the Addicks stopper.
With ten minutes played Blues had an excellent opportunity to open their account after David Davis won the ball on the by-line before pulling it back for Jon Toral. Unfortunately the Arsenal loanee was unable to keep his effort down and blasted his shot well over the bar from just ten yards.
But it was certainly not all one way traffic, as the visitors were looking dangerous on the counter-attack and Ademola Lookman was just off target as he fired into the side netting of the Blues goal.
Blues had a really decent shout for a penalty after Toral sent a pass towards the far post where Brock-Madsen was running in, but he just failed to reach the ball after it appeared that he was pulled back by Morgan Fox.
Despite the Dane’s protestations, Referee Darren Drysdale waved play on.
Minutes later Kuszczak was forced to pull off a decent save to push Tareiq Holmes-Dennis’ powerful shot behind.
Blues were managing to get the ball into the Charlton box on a regular basis but were either failing with the final pass or seeing their efforts blocked by the visitors.
But they went desperately close to breaking the deadlock after Demarai Gray skipped past three defenders before laying off a pass to Toral ten yards out. The midfielder hit a fine shot but Charlton keeper Henderson was equal to it and pushed the ball away.
The chances continued to come for Blues and moments later Davis won the ball in midfield before splitting the Charlton defence with a low pass which found Brock-Madsen. But with just the keeper to beat, Brock-Madsen struck his shot straight at him.
With half-time rapidly approaching the Blues defence was carved open far too easily but thankfully Gray was on hand to brilliantly intercept Johnnie Jackson’s cross to Lookman with the Charlton man poised to score.
Half-time: Blues 0 Charlton 0
The second period started with both sides intent on attacking.
And just minutes in Davis’ pass found Gray on the right and he went on surging run before rifling in a shot on goal which Henderson did really well to save low down at his near post.
Stephen Gleeson was the next Blues player to try his luck with a pile-driver of an effort from 20 yards, which flew just wide.
Maghoma was then just inches away from scoring when his curling low shot just evaded the far post with the keeper well beaten.
But it was Charlton that took the lead on 61 minutes through Jackson.
Holmes-Dennis sent in a superb cross and Jackson rose above the Blues defence to power home a bullet header.
On 72 minutes Rowett looked to shake things up by making a double substitution. Viv Solomon-Otabor was sent on for Davis and Reece Brown for Maghoma.
As the game entered its last 15 minutes the frustration in the home support was becoming evident as Blues continued to struggle to find a way back into the contest.
But then Toral wasted another great chance after Solomon-Otabor found him in the area and he completely messed up his header with the goal at his mercy.
Brown then had half a chance, but volleyed wide from just outside the box.
As the final minutes ticked away Blues continued to toil and Gleeson, Brown and Solomon-Otabor all went close with shots but the hosts were simply unable to breach the Charlton defence.