West Brom will count themselves lucky to take a point as Birmingham City failed to make their dominance count in the Midlands derby. Birmingham started unchanged from their previous fixture as they looked for their first win of the campaign, while West Brom made just one change with Conor Townsend making his first league start for the Baggies in place of Kieran Gibbs. The sides played out a 1-1 draw at St Andrews in a game that offered very little quality.
West Brom Lucky to Escape With a Point
Birmingham neutralised West Brom from the outset, not allowing the Albion back three to play their preferred passing style. Darren Moore tried to get his back-line to collect the ball and play into the feet of the midfield but Gary Monk’s side immediately unsettled them. Birmingham were gifted chance after chance throughout the game as the Baggies showed no conviction in their passing, repeatedly playing terrible passes that were easily picked off.
West Brom struggled to get a foothold in the first 30 minutes and, despite Birmingham having the majority of possession in that time, they were limited to shots from distance and easily dealt with crosses. The Blues looked to be lacking the ruthlessness that has evaded them so far this season before the game entered a three-minute spell in which the Baggies forgot how to defend.
Birmingham’s Big Three Minutes
Birmingham’s well-deserved breakthrough came just before the half-hour mark as Jota poked home from close range after a back-post knock-down by Lukas Jutkiewicz. West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was as static as his teammates as the ball fell to the Spaniard.
The Blues winger could’ve bagged his second just three minutes later when Kyle Bartley inexplicably handled the ball high above his head. Jota’s penalty kick was saved low to his left by Sam Johnstone, the Baggies goalkeeper facing his third penalty of the season with the summer arrival yet to be beaten from the spot.
Phillips Continues Good Form
Matt Phillips was West Brom’s best player, particularly in the first half, and it was the Scot who dragged the Baggies level late in the half. The winger pounced on a mistake from the Birmingham full-back as a botched clearance ricocheted off Phillips, who then buried his chance by guiding the ball past Lee Camp.
Phillips has been one of West Brom’s most consistent performers so far this season with his goal in this game taking his total to four goals in seven games. Already double his tally for the entire season last campaign, notching a disappointing two goals in 30 games.
West Brom Flurry
West Brom’s defenders continued to cause their own difficulties in the second half but toothless Birmingham failed to put the visitors to the sword. Blues’ inability to put games to bed has cost them heavily this season and so it proved here, although it could’ve been worse.
Albion began to look dangerous in spells and a flurry of chances in the final ten minutes almost gave them an undeserved away victory. Harvey Barnes had the best chance as neat build-up up play saw the young loanee strike the crossbar from a narrow angle. The rebound sliced back across goal by Matt Phillips before a short period of pinball-like action.
Darren Moore will be grateful for this point as the Baggies really didn’t deserve anything from the game. Gary Monk, meanwhile, will be slightly disappointed that Blues couldn’t notch their first win of the season but will be pleased with his side’s competitive spirit as they are unbeaten at home since March. If they can become more ruthless in games they dominate, such as this one, that win won’t be far off.