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Report: Blues 2-1 Swansea City

Blues beat Swansea City at St. Andrew’s in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon.

Lee Bowyer’s team were very good value for their victory in the Second City, having the better chances throughout and recapturing their scoring touch in front of the biggest home crowd of the campaign so far.

After a first-half that was limited of action, Troy Deeney set Blues on their way with a trademark finish in the 47th minute. However, Birmingham City were made to work for their win after Michael Obafemi levelled for the Swans against the run of play.

But it was Blues who ultimately got what they deserved when Riley McGree showed supreme determination to hit the decisive goal.

TEAM NEWS:

The Head Coach made two changes to the starting XI that collected a point at Huddersfield Town during the week. Second-half substitute Deeney was brought in and wore the armband, as Scott Hogan partnered him upfront in the other switch.

MAIN EVENT: 

The opening ten minutes saw both sides do their best to sound one another out in a game of cat and mouse before Blues had the match’s first, major chance courtesy of their high-tempo approach.

Reading Swansea’s intentions to continually play from the back, Gary Gardner pinched possession from Matt Grimes’ loose ball and really should have done better from 25 yards out with the goal at his mercy. However, the midfielder was unable to capitalise on Ben Hamer being away from his net as his curling effort went wide.

That proved to be the only significant opportunity of half an hour of football in B9 until Blues were left frustrated by an assistant referee’s flag after 33 minutes. Tahith Chong’s in-swinging cross was neatly headed in by Hogan, with the celebrations swiftly cut short due to an offside call.

Half-time: Blues 0-0 Swansea

If the first 45 had been a slow burn, the hosts well and truly lit the blue touch paper to raise the roof in B9 just two minutes after the interval. Chong progressed down the left with real purpose and his centre was perfectly weighted for the motoring Deeney who produced a vintage touch and finish into the bottom corner.

With the home crowd buoyed and Blues’ tails up, they could have added a second a matter of moments later. But, in a carbon copy move to the goal, Kristian Pedersen’s impressive burst along the flank was not matched by the delivery which evaded Hogan in the middle.

Momentum was clearly with Blues and fuelled by this they created a flurry of chances. The best of these saw the home side’s number nine beat the offside trap and almost have too much time as he was smothered by Hamer, whilst Gardner had a swept shot deflected wide and Pedersen headed into the side netting.

Understandably unable to sustain the ferocity of such a spell, Blues concentrated their energies on remaining a solid unit and were able to keep the visitors quiet. Although, this period was not without attack and Chong forced Hamer into a fine save when he rocketed the ball goalwards from range.

But just 60 seconds later this sterling work was undone by Russell Martin’s men. Grimes’ ranging pass put Obafemi in the clear and the second-half substitute finished low past Matija Sarkic.

Lesser teams may have folded at conceding against the run of play; instead, Blues saw it as a challenge to prove themselves.

And only five minutes after being pegged back, Bowyer’s team retook a lead that they undeservedly lost thanks to what would be the winning goal. McGree saw his initial attempt half-stopped by Hamer before the Australian raced onto the follow-up and finished the job from close range.

KEY MOMENT:

After a dry patch in front of goal, Blues reminded everybody of their attacking capabilities when Deeney notched his second of the season. The summer arrival delivered stylishly to send the Bluenoses into raptures and, although it was not the winner, it gave the injection of confidence required to go on and eventually claim the three points.

FINAL OUTCOME:

Blues climb up to 17th and now have 16 points from their 14 league outings to date.

MATCH DETAILS:

Blues (3-4-3): Matija Sarkic, Dion Sanderson, Marc Roberts, George Friend, Jordan Graham, Gary Gardner, Ivan Sunjic, Kristian Pedersen, Scott Hogan (Riley McGree 63), Troy Deeney (captain) (Chuks Aneke 85), Tahith Chong.

Substitutes not used: Neil Etheridge, Harlee Dean, Ryan Woods, Ivan Sanchez, Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Booking: Gardner 53, McGree 94.

Swansea City (3-4-2-1): Ben Hamer, Ryan Bennett, Kyle Naughton, Ryan Manning, Ethan Laird, Matt Grimes (captain), Korey Smith (Michael Obafemi 57), Joel Latibeaudiere, Olivier Ntcham (Liam Walsh 62), Jamie Paterson, Joel Piroe (Liam Cullen 71).

Substitutes not used: Steven Benda, Ben Cabango, Jay Fulton, Rhys Williams.

Booking: Bennett 52.

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 16,132

NEXT STEPS:

Blues continue their Championship affairs as they travel to the Riverside Stadium for a game against Middlesbrough next weekend. This trip is followed by successive home games, with Bristol City ('kids for a quid' fixture) and Reading visiting St. Andrew’s on Wednesday and Saturday respectively before the season’s third international break.

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