Birmingham City came from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day to end a run of three successive Championship defeats.
Pep Clotet headed into the game under mounting pressure with the Blues having lost 3-0 at Hull City last weekend, which had extended Birmingham’s run to just one win in their last nine Championship games, and despite a second half penalty from Kerim Mrabti, who was making a first appearances since a 1-0 defeat against Fulham in November, they could not stop that run extending to one win in ten.
It could have been worse for the Blues though, with Blackburn’s Adam Armstrong converting from twelve yards ten minutes into the second half, following Wes Harding’s foul on Sam Gallagher in the box, to give the hosts the lead but in what was largely a game devoid of clear cut chances, Birmingham did at least claim what was a deserved a point.
Here then, we take a look at THREE things we learnt about the Blues following their 1-1 draw at Blackburn…
Birmingham need Roberts and Clarke-Salter back fit
In the absence of both the injured Marc Roberts and Jake Clarke-Salter, Clotet brought Harding back into the side alongside Harlee Dean at the heart of the Blues’ defence against Blackburn, having left him out of the last two games in favour of Geraldo Bajrami.
Harding produced a largely solid performance in the first half alongside Dean, as the Blues restricted Blackburn to limited chances during the opening 45 minutes, but the 23-year-old’s lack of experience as a centre-back was demonstrated at the start of the second half, when Gallagher got the wrong side of him and was then brought down for the penalty.
The 23-year-old did manage to recover well from that mistake, but that error could have cost the Blues a fourth successive defeat, and after conceding 11 goals in their last five Championship matches, Clotet’s side are in need of Roberts and Clarke-Salter returning to fitness as soon as possible.
Can you name the colour of Birmingham City’s last 14 away shirts?
Mrabti shows his worth
Mrabti has endured a challenging last few weeks having not made a single appearance for the Blues since a run of four successive starts between the end of October and start of November, which were started by him starting in Birmingham’s 1-0 win at home to Blackburn in the reverse fixture.
The 25-year-old had been behind the likes of Dan Crowley, Jeremie Bela, Fran Villalba, Jude Bellingham, Jefferson Montero and Jacques Maghoma in recent weeks, but Clotet game him a chance to impress again at Ewood Park, and Mrabti was one of the Blues’ most lively attacking presences throughout as he attempted to provide a creative spark.
Mrabti had the Blues’ best chance in the first half when he broke clear on goal but a poor first touch made the angle too narrow for him to covert, before he converted his penalty calmly to get Birmingham back on level terms, and that will have offered Clotet a reminder of his abilities.
Birmingham lacking in creativity
Despite managing to secure an equaliser in the second half after falling behind, the Blues were lacking in creativity throughout most of the contest at Ewood Park, with Clotet’s side only registering three shots on target in the 90 minutes, as they struggled to break down Blackburn’s well organised defence.
Since Birmingham scored three at Reading in their only win in their last ten Championship games, they have only scored three in their last four, which highlights the lack of creative spark for Clotet’s side at the moment, and that is something the Spaniard will need to address to get his side winning more regularly again.
With the January transfer window approaching, the Blues’ attacking players at Blackburn did little to halt the thoughts that they need to strengthen their attacking options in the winter window.