Sat 16 Apr 16
at 17:00 PM
Report: Blues 1 Burnley 2
Blues were unfortunate to be defeated at St. Andrew’s after pushing promotion-chasing Burnley all the way.
Gary Rowett’s men were left to rue some missed chances at pivotal times and bad luck as the woodwork denied Jonathan Grounds’ header just before the visitors’ winning goal.
George Boyd had fired Burnley into an interval lead but Jacques Maghoma levelled 10 minutes into the second-half as Blues finally converted one of their 21 shots.
The Blues backline had kept the Championship’s top scorer Andre Gray quiet for most of the afternoon but with 15 minutes remaining he came alive in the box and fired the ball past Adam Legzdins from close range to settle the contest.
The hosts ended the game with one less man after the late dismissal of Jon Toral for a second bookable offence.
Blues had a penalty shout early on when Michael Keane’s high foot struck Maghoma in the face and the two were involved in a touchline battle again a few minutes later.
On that second occasion, the official did make the decision in Blues’ favour after Maghoma’s persistence saw him dispossess the Burnley centre-half and then get hauled down.
Ryan Shotton was inches away from getting on the end of the resultant in-swinging free-kick from David Cotterill but the ball just evaded the Blues loanee.
Chances were at a premium during a competitive opening but midway through the half a superb passing move saw Blues create a golden opportunity.
Toral fed David Cotterill on the right side of the penalty area and the winger picked out Maghoma with well-directed low cross, but the Congolese international’s first-time side-footed effort from 12 yards whizzed a couple of yards wide of the left-hand post.
But it was the visitors that went ahead on 31 minutes with their first real effort on target.
Shotton slid in to block Scott Arfield’s right wing cross and diverted it to Maikel Kieftenbeld but the Dutchman didn’t get a good connection on his attempted clearance, the ball rolled out to George Boyd who sent it pinging back into the bottom right corner of Legzdins’ net.
Blues’ response was a good one, carving out several decent opportunities with Cotterill at the heart of them all.
The Welshman put in two good crosses from the right that created chances, the first for Toral whose glancing header was deflected wide for a corner and then a low drive in the direction of David Davis but the midfielder got his shot horribly wrong and it ballooned well over.
Cotterill then had two free-kicks which caused Burnley problems.
His set-piece from the left was headed up in the air by Grounds and Toral came charging in but could only direct his header into the grateful arms of Tom Heaton.
Then another Cotterill free-kick, this time a direct one, was only saved at the second attempt by Heaton.
In first-half injury-time, another dangerous low ball into the box from Cotterill created panic.
A grounded Donaldson did well to keep hold of the ball and recycle possession after a melee and Cotterill was back in the action again with a shot, but under pressure from several defenders it flew well over.
The visitors were forced into a change at the break with David Jones replacing Joey Barton and the sub had an early chance to double his side’s advantage.
Boyd showed neat control to keep hold of the ball and tee up Jones but the former Manchester United trainee missed the target with his low shot.
Soon afterwards another chance fell the way of Ashley Barnes but his half-volley flew into the side-netting
But on 55 minutes, Blues levelled. Toral brought the ball down superbly on the edge of the box, before getting it out of his feet and sending in a shot that Heaton could only parry away.
The alert Maghoma was first to the rebound and directed his follow-up header past Heaton into the bottom corner of the net.
Burnley looked to hit back straightaway but were quickly caught on the counter-attack. A fantastic move started by Kieftenbeld was taken on by Toral who then picked out Cotterill, the winger setting himself before firing in a shot that was deflected wide.
Blues continued to press and won successive corners, the second of which ended with a pot shot from distance by Kieftenbeld that was always on the rise.
The visitors were next to threaten as right-back Matt Lowton’s driving run took him to the edge of the box and his low shot was turned around the post by the fingertips of Legzdins.
The skill and vision of Toral set up a terrific opportunity for Donaldson inside the area but the striker seemed to pause to check whether he was onside and then got his feet into something of a muddle and couldn’t get his effort on target.
The Blues onslaught continued and Rowett’s side came within a whisker of going in front on 75 minutes.
Grounds rose highest above a mass of bodies inside the Burnley area and met Cotterill’s right-wing corner with a towering header that crashed back off the crossbar.
This time it was Burnley’s turn to counter quickly as former Blues loanee Lloyd Dyer raced down the left and set up Dean Marney on the edge of the box but his first-time effort was always veering off target.
Sean Dyche’s team weren’t to be denied and not for the first time this season it was their top marksman Gray that did the damage.
The goal had a lot to do with the neat control of Boyd who skipped through to the left side of the area and then floated in a cross to the far post where Gray was in the right place to hammer the ball past Legzdins.
Gray had a chance to settle the game four minutes from time when he looked to race clear from the halfway line but Blues quickly got bodies back and it was Davis that made the vital interception to block the striker’s shot.
Fabbrini fired in a shot from 25 yards that fizzed just over the ball on the cusp on normal time but that was the closest Blues came to restoring parity.
The home side finished the game with 10 men as Toral was dismissed after picking up his second yellow card of the game for a trip on Dyer.