Mon 02 Jan 17
at 17:00 PM
Report: Blues 1 Brentford 3
Lukas Jutkiewicz’s eighth goal of the season wasn’t enough to earn Blues anything from their opening game of 2017.
The striker marked his final match as a loan player, before officially becoming a permanent member of the squad at midnight tonight, by firing the hosts in front midway through the first-half.
Blues put in an encouraging display in the opening period with some nice passing moves but after the break visiting Brentford turned the encounter on its head.
Scott Hogan levelled matters before Andreas Bjelland’s flick from Ryan Woods’ free-kick somehow found its way into the net. And Brentford sub Nico Yennaris put the seal on the victory with an impressive third goal for Dean Smith’s side.
Gianfranco Zola made three changes from the Blues team that drew at Barnsley 48 hours ago. Robert Tesche, David Cotterill and Jutkiewicz were recalled with Maikel Kieftenbeld, Stephen Gleeson and Greg Stewart making way and taking spots on the bench.
Blues signalled their intentions early on, Cotterill swinging in a dangerous free-kick from wide on the left which took a deflection before bouncing narrowly wide of the far post. Ryan Shotton tried his best to connect to Cotterill’s subsequent corner but couldn’t direct his header on target.
The first shot on target came from the visitors on 10 minutes when Brentford top scorer Hogan let fly with a fierce drive from just outside the area but Kuszczak was able to parry the ball away.
Cotterill was presented with an opportunity from 25 yards when he latched onto a loose pass from Brentford’s Harley Dean, but the Welshman’s effort was always rising and cleared the bar by a few yards.
Blues wasted a golden chance to take the lead on 19 minutes when a terrific flowing move culminated in Jutkiewicz chipping a delightful ball over the top of the Brentford defence for Adams to run clear on goal. The striker glanced across to the assistant, who kept his flag down, but as the ball bounced up awkwardly he dragged his shot wide of Daniel Bentley’s left-hand post.
The former Sheffield United man made amends by setting up the opening goal of the game after another incisive home attack. Tesche started the move before Adams teed up Jutkiewicz and the in-form front man dinked the ball over the top of the onrushing Bentley.
Blues could have quickly doubled their lead as Cotterill’s cross from wide on the right arrived at the feet of Adams whose instinctive first-time shot was gratefully grasped by the Brentford keeper.
But the visitors were looking dangerous on the break and Blues were indebted to a great block from David Davis to prevent Romaine Sawyer’s effort from causing Kuszczak any problems. From the same attack, Yoann Barbet fizzed a shot narrowly over.
Blues were soon back on the offensive, Jacques Maghoma seeing his shot blocked by Dean. Moments later, Jutkiewicz did well to retain possession on the edge of the box and set up Jonathan Grounds whose low shot was saved down to his right by Bentley.
Four minutes into the second-half and Blues were glad to see the offside flag when Hogan latched onto a defence-splitting pass from Sawyers, although Kuszczak foiled the striker anyway, turning his shot away.
But on 54 minutes there was no get-out for Blues when Hogan followed up inside the area to crash an unstoppable shot past Kuszczak after Shotton has thrown himself in the way of Barbet’s initial effort.
Jutkiewicz soon had the ball in the net again at the other end but the referee had already blown for a foul on Maghoma. Cotterill tried his luck from 35 yards with the resultant free-kick which was pushed around his post by Bentley.
Brentford could have completed a double-quick turnaround of their fortunes on 58 minutes when Hogan was brought down by Shotton for a penalty, despite the Blues defender’s insistent pleas that the infringement had occurred right on the edge of the box.
Hogan dusted himself down and took the spot-kick, but Kuszczak came to Blues’ rescue by brilliantly turning the striker's well-taken shot around the post.
The visitors were not to be denied on 74 minutes though as they took the lead. Woods swept in a free-kick from the left which was touched on Bjelland and found its way into the back of the net past a forest of legs.
And when Yannaris let fly with a scorcher from 25 yards to finish the game as a contest on 87 minutes, there was no coming back for Blues.