Tue 07 Mar 17
at 21:40 PM
Report: Blues 0 Wigan Athletic 1
Blues’ disappointing run of form continued at St. Andrew’s on Tuesday night as they lost by a solitary goal to Wigan Athletic.
And to compound matters, it was former Blues loanee Dan Burn that scored the winner when he fired home from close-range mid-way through the first-half.
Blues failed to reach the level of performance they had shown in their previous two outings and it took until the second-half until they started to show any real sense of urgency, but ultimately they were unable to find the back of the net.
Gianfranco Zola elected to keep faith with the same starting XI that he’d named in the previous two games.
The only change came on the substitutes’ bench, with Jacques Maghoma returning to the matchday squad after an extended spell out with a knee injury.
Blues started reasonably brightly and recorded their first attempt within the first two minutes, but Craig Gardner’s free-kick was comfortably held by Latics keeper Matt Gilks.
But in what was generally a scrappy opening, both teams looked distinctly nervous in possession.
Blues were given a real scare after 19 minutes when Che Adams was forced to head a dangerous free-kick away for a corner.
But from the resultant ball in by Jamie Hanson, Blues once again failed to clear their lines and were punished as Burn was able to side-foot the ball home from close-range to give the visitors the lead.
The goal seemed to really lift the Latics and they began to play with much more purpose and confidence, whilst Blues were struggling to cause them problems.
With 37 on the clock Gardner tried his luck from distance, but his effort was deflected behind by Hanson for a corner.
As half-time approached, the same midfielder whipped in a free-kick, but Burn did really well to head his attempt out from under his own bar.
But that was just a brief respite for the hosts, as almost immediately at the other end Alex Gilbey fired wide of Kuszczak’s post.
Half-time: Blues 0 Wigan 1
Having witnessed such an underwhelming first-half showing from his side, Zola made a double substitution at the break, with Lukas Jutkiewicz replacing Maikel Kieftenbeld and Kerim Frei sent on in place of Josh Dacres-Cogley.
The changes were warmly welcomed by the St. Andrew’s faithful who were desperate to see their side show more of an attacking threat.
But it was Wigan who were continuing to look the more dangerous unit, as Gilbey broke through the Blues defence, but under pressure from Shotton fired just wide.
With close to an hour gone Blues were finally beginning to assert themselves as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
Shotton got his head to Gardner’s free-kick deep in the visitors’ box, but the ball looped up into the air and behind for a goal kick.
A great run down the right flank by Jutkiewicz culminated in him winning a free-kick in a dangerous position. Gardner swung the dead-ball into the far post where Emilio Nsue just about got to it and headed it back in, but it was cleared away by the Wigan defence.
Jutkiewicz was looking by far Blues’ most dangerous player, but it was Adams that had the next attempt for Blues as he drilled a shot over from 25 yards.
Blues won a free-kick in a great position just outside the Wigan box, but Frei curled his attempt over the bar.
But they had to remain alert, as Wigan continued to look dangerous on the counter attack and Michael Jacobs should have done better when he shot tamely atKuszczak.
Blues made strong appeals for a penalty after a Wigan player appeared to handle the ball in his own area, but the referee waved away their protestations.
Blues now head to Cardiff at the weekend looking to make amends.