Blues walked away from their opening Sky Bet Championship fixture of the 2016/17 campaign with a point following a 0-0 draw against Cardiff City.
In what was generally a scrappy encounter, neither side really got up to speed on bright summer's afternoon at St. Andrew's.
Ahead of kick-off there was a minute’s applause for the late, great Alex Govan who sadly passed away earlier in the summer. The tribute culminated in a fitting and fantastic version of ‘Keep Right On’ from the home faithful.
Blues looked lively in the opening stages and after five minutes Clayton Donaldson went on a surging run before being upended just outside the area. David Cotterill stepped up and sent in a low free-kick which was cleared as far as Stephen Gleeson, but his on target effort was charged down.
Tomasz Kuszczak was then forced to produce a terrific save to deny Matthew Connolly after the Cardiff man met Peter Whittingham’s free-kick with a powerful header.
Buoyed by the first attempt on target, Cardiff started to increase the pressure on Blues and several balls were fired into the Blues penalty area, but without an end product.
Blues were extremely fortunate to escape with their goal intact after 26 minutes when Cardiff swung a long ball forward which Ryan Shotton failed to deal with. It dropped kindly to Anthony Pilkington, but luckily Kuszczak had shown good anticipation in coming off his line and was able to save the Cardiff man’s attempted chip from just a few yards distance.
Kuszczak was then called into action again moments later when he showed brilliant athleticism to push away Whittingham’s fierce volley.
However, it wasn’t all one way traffic, and Blues went desperately close when Jonathan Grounds met Cotterill’s corner with an excellent header which was cleared off the line by Bruno Manga with the goalkeeper beaten
But on 34 Cardiff had an even better opportunity when, in attempting to prevent a corner, Cotterill gave the ball away in his own box to Declan John. John’s low pass found Fred Gounongbe just three yards out, but in what will surely be one of the misses of the season, he inexplicably ballooned the ball over the bar with an empty net at his mercy.
Half-time: Blues 0 Cardiff City 0
Blues made a nervy opening to the second-half and were looking shaky, particularly in defence.
They were forced to scramble the ball away from inside their own six-yard area with it bouncing around, and then Gounongbe was allowed a free header which he sent behind into the travelling support.
Blues had their first sight on goal of the second-half after 54 when Cotterill drilled a low shot just wide.
Diego Fabbrini tried his luck with a neat attempt which took a deflection off a defender before David Marshall did really well to tip it over the bar.
At the other end, Blues had to be thankful for the crossbar after Lex Immers’ volleyed attempt from just outside the area cannoned back off the woodwork.
In an attempt to stir his side into action, Gary Rowett made a double substitution when he sent on Jack Storer for his debut in place of Fabbrini, and Reece Brown for Cotterill.
Storer was almost immediately in the thick of the action when he curled a chance wide from 30 yards.
Less than a minute later Brown found Storer with a great reverse pass, but his close-range shot was forced away by Marshall.
With the game entering its last ten minutes, both sides really started to pick up the pace in search of a winner but ultimately never were able to make the breakthrough and were forced to settle for a point apiece from their Championship opener.