Well I very nearly called it exactly right on December 15 when I predicted bookings for Nolan and Faubert, although I must admit that I expected them to negotiate a day off on Boxing Day, not this coming Saturday. But perhaps their New Year's parties are a long drive away so they need to have New Years Eve off for travelling!
For the record I wrote, "Christmas approaches and Captain Kev and Julien Faux Pas are just one yellow card each away from a suspension. It would be a disaster for either to incur a suspension with so many players ruled out by injury, but on a personal level, it would surely suit them down to the ground...So, expect a slightly late tackle from Faubert to secure him a day off after Christmas, whilst Nolan will probably just talk himself into the book, fulfilling his Captain's duties to the letter..". Not a bad call given both collected yellows today, securing a day off, and McCartney joined the party by picking up a yellow too. Selecting a team to play Derby is going to be interesting!
The Nolan yellow was hideous. He should have seen a straight red and incurred a three match ban for violent conduct. With New Year's Day falling between the Derby and Coventry games, perhaps that was what he was aiming for! How else do you explain that challenge on Zigic on the half way line? It was a truly revolting foul, stamping and raking and risking severing an Achilles tendon in the process. The referee saw it and completely bottled it when he pulled out the yellow card. But then the referee was shit throughout, because he saw Spector's hand ball too but didn't give the penalty.
But he wasn't the only one who was shit out there! Apart from chuntering at the officials and that awful foul, what did Nolan do all game? And apart from heading the ball into no man's land to assist the goal, what did Piquionne do before he was withdrawn? And after coming on, what did Lansbury do? Or Sears? Or Carew?
But who was worse than all of them? Faubert! True he provided the cross for Cole in the last minute of the first half that saw Myhill make a brilliant save, but typically the cross was behind Carlton and it was only Cole's skill that enabled him to get the shot away. Apart from that, Faubert was dreadful! Remember when Di Michelle decided to tie his laces when we took a free kick a couple of seasons back? Well Faubert out did him today by electing to protect his ugly mush instead of heading into an empty net and then by turning his back on the goal as Lansbury's shot was parried into his path...or rather into the shadow of his great fat lazy French arse!
In truth, we were dire yet again. Birmingham were still digesting their Christmas dinner in the first half but once they woke up, we were not in the game until after they equalised. And then, incredibly, we decided to start playing again and bossed the match for most of the remaining ten minutes.
Allardyce will bemoan conceding late in a game again but what does he expect when, after scoring, we say to the opposition, "Here's the ball, we really don't want it again unless you score a goal." Poor Cole was left utterly isolated yet again as we sank deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper. Anybody could see that Birmingham would score eventually. Anybody except Allardyce who had settled on a 1-0 victory from the off.
So, apart from the Cole chance, and Faubert's feeble attempts to get on the end of two crosses, we offered absolutely nothing going forward. I sat with a guy who had not seen us play this season and after 60 minutes he asked, "How are you in second place? You must have been playing better than this!" My answer was, "No we haven't, in fact we played better in the first 45 minutes than we have in most games I've seen this season."
We got a point, and a point at St Andrews is not to be sniffed at, but at what a price! Allardyce must have told Nolan, McCartney and Faubert to be careful not to collect yellows, but that obviously fell on deaf ears. After his booking today, Noble now needs a yellow on Saturday to avoid the game on Janaury 2nd and that must be a safe bet surely?
So, level on points with Miserablebrough and three points behind Southampton. Just think, back in September people were saying the team needed time to gel. Now, Allardyce will be looking for at least three new signings in January starting the gelling process all over again!
Green 6 (The save from the free kick was straightforward so God knows why he flew through the air like Superman on cocaine! Why didn't he dive for the goal?); O'Brien 6 (One brilliant saving tackle) Tomkins 8 (Superb until he did his best to give Zigic a goal with a wild slice across his own six yard box) McCartney 7 (Impressive as a centre back) Potts 5 (Found out sadly); Diop 7 (quietly efficient); Noble 6 Nolan 4; Faubert 2 (Awful!) Piquionne 1 (Get rid!); Cole 7 (Took his goal brilliantly!) Subs: Lansbury 4, Sears 1, Carew 1