Birmingham City went down 2-0 to Cardiff City in another drab encounter.
Birmingham City lost to Cardiff City today 2-0 to end a good sequence of four games unbeaten against a team picking up their first league home win in two months.
A goal from Eoin Doyle and a penalty from Peter Whittingham were enough to seal the win for the Bluebirds who remain 14th in the table, but with a four-point gap over Birmingham City in 15th.
It was a disappointing day for Blues manager Gary Rowett who was sent to the stands for throwing a ball at the floor while arguing what he saw as a poor decision against his team.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
1) Without much to play for, Birmingham City’s players have lost their intensity
Both sides were poor in the first half but Cardiff at least stepped up their game in the second, unlike the Blues who only managed one shot on target all game. Rowett only elected to make one change from the team which drew with Huddersfield, recalling Stephen Gleeson following his suspension at the expense of Andrew Shinnie as the team moved to a 4-1-4-1 formation. However, neither David Davis nor Robert Tesche could stamp their influence on the game with Davis coming off for Wes Thomas on 65 minutes.
2) A culture of complacency
With a dearth of quality outside of the first eleven it does seem that some players are coasting somewhat safe in the knowledge that they almost certainly won’t be dropped. David Cotterill is a prime example of this; on form he is one of the best wingers in the division but without any competition for his berth on the right-hand side of midfield he has slackened off – particularly as there is little to play for, and as a consequence his standards have dropped. Cotterill manages at least one careless pass per game that plays in the opposition and he needs to cut that out if Rowett brings in any competition for him.
3) Time to bring in fresh blood
Reece Brown travelled with the squad today but failed to make the cut. The 20-year-old midfielder is probably the brightest prospect outside of the first eleven – something he has underlined with some good performances for the U21 team and on his day could definitely freshen up the side. Comfortable across the midfield line, he could prove to be the natural number ten that Gary Rowett needs in his 4-2-3-1 formation and if Brown can play for the full 90 minutes, unlike Andrew Shinnie, he could feasibly make that position his own.
4) Morrison to make his return
The other player to travel today and not play was Michael Morrison – understandably so as he hasn’t played in six weeks and has just returned to fitness. However, Birmingham need him back in the heart of defence as Jonathan Spector once again has shown his maddening inconsistency which has troubled him throughout his St Andrew’s career. Guilty of the mistake which cost a goal against Huddersfield, Spector gave away a penalty which confirmed the points today for Cardiff.
5) Rowett needs to experiment
Rowett himself is not immune from criticism. While it is understandable that he is still concerned Birmingham City don’t fall into the relegation trap, it is incredibly unlikely now and his continued faith in players that aren’t quite at the races is proving to be frustrating for fans. While many Birmingham City fans can accept that the position they are in is a good one and an achievement bearing in mind everything that has gone on off the pitch, there is an increasing feeling that with so many games to play that are effectively dead rubbers, Rowett really should be trying out new things to look at players and formations for the season ahead.