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Positives
Maybe not as bad it suggests. By: Eric Hitchmo 15/08/2012
Birmingham City A
14/08/2012   (Click date for match details)
League Cup 2012-2013
L  1- 5
NURSE '31
Attendance: 9905  (383 Away)
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Well it might have been the result that was expected, but the manner in which it came about was most certainly not. In the season's opener, we gave a decent showing before succumbing to a far superior team. There's no shame in that whatsoever, we are talking about a Championship side with Premier League aspirations here, and there are certainly positives we can take alongside the negatives. It's not often you can say that about a 5-1 defeat.

What would have been clear to anyone who was watching us for the first time was the complete overhaul in the way we went about our play. We were playing football. For so long we have watched balls fly into the night air in an attempt to get the ball forward. Now however it looks like that particular philosophy is well and truly gone. Whether it was purposeful enough is up for debate but it certainly gave the hosts something to think about in the first half as they struggled to gain any momentum of their own. Barnet were having a go and matched the home side for shots on goal, and could arguably claim that the more clear-cut chances fell to them. Anthony Edgar saw his shot saved and the rebound cleared off the line when through, Jon Fortune's header appeared destined to go in until touched in by an offside Clovis Kamdjo. These openings created a real air of positivity amongst the reasonably sized away support.

Birmingham did at times in the first half show their ability in cutting through us, but we were managing to hold on relatively comfortably. After half an hour, a ball in from Edgar was nodded goalwards by Jon Nurse. The goalkeeper appeared to make a bit of a hash of it and allowed the ball to hit the back of the net to give Barnet a shock lead. What an exciting thing to happen. It wasn't to last though, as former Barnet man Marlon King was felled in the area by Kamdjo. It was clever forward play, and he got himself into a position to draw the foul and earn the penalty. He got up and sent Liam O'Brien the wrong way before gesturing to the away support who had been chanting in his direction. Charming.

This may have given Birmingham the impetus to press on, however it was Barnet who would have the last clear cut chance of the half as Ricky Holmes was sent through on goal and saw his dink over the keeper rebound off the upright. In the ensuing melee, Edgar curled the ball narrowly over the bar. Unfortunate, but there were very encouraging signs as we went into the break.

In Lee Clark however, Birmingham have a manager who is no mug. What seems evident from the opening exchanges of the second half is that he went into the dressing room, pulled no punches and told his team to go out and put this game to bed. Within ten minutes, they had more or less done so. Suspect marking from a corner allowed Steve Caldwell to lash home from point-blank range, and Darren Ambrose curled in a fine finish from outside the box to make it 3-1 before many knew what was going on. It served to really take the zip and fire out of the contest, which was a bit a shame really.

The away support continued to have a good old sing song, but it seemed clear that on the field, Birmingham had rolled their sleeves up and didn't fancy letting us play anymore. They had a full strength line up and there were individuals out there who you clearly see were a cut above the rest. Curtis Davies at centre back in particular appeared to be strolling around with the greatest of ease, cutting out everything that came his way with a nonchalance and comfort of a classy defender. Our fluidity had dropped and perhaps the heads were down after conceding two goals so early.

In the end it was fairly comfortable for the home side. Two more goals were added in injury time to add something of an unfair gloss on proceedings. It was harsh on our men, who didn't play particularly badly in the second half, however came up against an opponent superior in all areas. As I said earlier, there's no shame in that. As someone who had previously been so indifferent to this season and Barnet as a whole, it certainly provided a little bit of a wake-up call. I might even go to Port Vale with a bit of positivity now! So in the end, Birmingham were through safely and good luck to them, however, this was not to be the last action of the evening.

What happened after the game has been subject to much questioning and conjecture, so let me try and clear it up as someone who saw it all unfold first hand. Having endured some fairly harmless banter throughout the evening, a section of the home supporters decided that after the game they were going to do something about it. I mean, the Marlon King abuse was worse, and a little tiresome in the end I might add.

Anyhow, as we were leaving the ground, there was a slightly heated argument going on between a couple of Barnet fans and a group of maybe ten or so young lads from Birmingham. What appeared to be pretty innocuous at first clearly wasn't as whatever was said served to wind up the said ten, and encourage more to join it. It soon became apparent that we weren't going home any time soon as the handful of stewards struggled to handle a mounting situation. More arrived, but one lad managed to make his way through, past me and aim a kick at thin air before retreating. Oh good.

With more stewards arriving, it appeared their primary aim was to shut the gate and make the crowd outside disperse. The problem now was that they were dealing with far more kids who were looking for trouble. Frantic radio messages were being relayed as we were asked to move back inside. Oddly, the stewards then moved back without closing the gates, which of course invited the youngsters to follow. It seemed pretty clear that none of these lads had any intention of trying to break through the line and attack anyone, but tell that to the vast majority of Barnet fans, many with their young children, who just wanted to go home. One lad slipped through the net. One brave, heroic lad. The one you could rely on when times were tough. Evading the stewards like Houdini himself, he strolled up bold as brass, shoulders swaggering and hips swaying. With clear intent in his eyes, he set himself upon his target. Walking past me at pace, he went for someone who was barely involved in the incident. With fearsome might, he pushed through thin air and made contact with his polo shirt. After this incredible display in the art of hand to hand combat, he moved back away from us at a pace an Olympian would have been proud of, his arms out wide as if to say "Did you see that? Did you see how hard I am?". It might have been one of the most absurd things I have ever seen.

Talking of the Olympics, a fortnight of huge pride for the nation after such an effort from our athletes, I was so glad to see that those values and sentiment were continued in this little pocket of Great Britain last night.

What this will unfortunately do is sour the experience of Birmingham City FC for all involved with Barnet. No reasonable individual could label all Blues fans under the same bracket as this handful of children, however this surreal end to the evening will stay in the memory. It is worth noting that the actions of some Barnet fans undoubtedly added fuel to the fire and helped cause an entirely avoidable situation. Eventually, with a seemingly more robust security team arriving, the gates were closed and the situation was diffused. It was a shame that the Birmingham stewarding team were not quicker to react to a mounting sitation, and indeed theres a question mark over where the police were in this whole incident. Barnets police have been hot on our games for many years, but they were nowhere to be seen tonight.

I guess I was one of the fortunate ones, and perhaps I should not be so blasé about it considering that once the supporters coaches were allowed to leave, they came under fire from the dispersed youths. Windows were supposedly smashed and cracked. As if this whole incident wasn't moronic enough. It seems a shame that I have to dedicate almost as much space to this as I have the football. It was largely an awful lot of jumping around and shouting in effect, however this incident with the coach makes it plenty more serious.

Anyhow, it was a strange end to what was an entertaining evening. To any onlooker who peruses the scores this morning, it looks like a standard drubbing, but that wouldn't tell the entire story. Yes we were outclassed eventually, but we gave a good account of ourselves and it certainly leaves me feeling a little more optimistic about our prospects for the season. Room for improvement of course, however if the events of last night were anything to go by, it should be an interesting season if nothing else.




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All Articles By This Author:

Date 
24/04/2013 Farewell
19/04/2013 Underhill
03/04/2013 Away
02/02/2013 Questions
21/12/2012 Miserable
07/11/2012 Corner
21/10/2012 Win
15/10/2012 Burst
08/10/2012 Glimmer
04/10/2012 Same
12345678910...


Other Articles By Category


Date 
24/04/2013 Farewell
19/04/2013 Underhill
03/04/2013 Away
02/02/2013 Questions
21/12/2012 Miserable
07/11/2012 Corner
21/10/2012 Win
15/10/2012 Burst
08/10/2012 Glimmer
04/10/2012 Same
12345678910...

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