Often Partisan

That Was The Season That Was Part V

Here is the final part of my season review.

A trip to Burnley at the start of April saw Blues win 3-1 away as they looked to cement their place in the playoffs. Having seen Burnley cancel out Marlon King’s first half opener with fifteen minutes to go the familiar fears of Blues chucking it away came to the fore but not this time – within sixty seconds Blues were back in front as Jordon Mutch scored his first senior goal for the club and then David Murphy continued his barnstorming form by adding a third two minutes from time. 3-1 was clearly a happy scoreline for Blues as they pulled it off again four days later against Crystal Palace – this time thanks to a pearler from Chris Burke which was then topped 90 seconds later by the goal of the season from Keith Fahey, along with yet another David Murphy goal as the left back drilled a low shot home past Speroni.

There was brief talk of Blues making the automatic slots and having taken the half time lead at West Ham 3-1 it did seem possible. Jordon Mutch scored his second goal in three games as the Hammers defence fell asleep, and then Marlon King added to that as once again the Londoners lost concentration in vital part of the pitch. Vaz Te got a goal back in first half injury time but somehow Blues got their two goal cushion back with the craziest of goals from Burke, volleying into the ground from a corner and watching it bounce over everybody and fly into the net. Alas, Blues couldn’t hang on – Carlton Cole scored first and then having gotten away with two challenges that really could and should have been penalties Blues finally conceded a spot kick at the end which Vaz Te converted to make it 3-3.

That game killed any hope Blues had of making second place and whilst they weren’t beaten, the team went on to draw their next three games – 2-2 against Bristol City having come back from two goals down; 1-1 away to Ipswich and then 1-1 away to Brighton and Hove Albion thanks to a late equaliser from Nathan Redmond. Blues finished off their regular season with a win against Champions Reading however in a game of three pens – of which only one was scored, by Wade Elliott. Colin Doyle saved Ian Harte’s effort in the second half and Elliott missed his injury time effort to make it 3-0. Adam Rooney came back from a long spell out of the team to score the first goal.

Off the pitch it was another month of anti-climax, with the now massively overdue accounts again delayed – this time until July. Thankfully, the good football that the club had seen on the pitch and the massive goodwill to Chris Hughton shown by the Blues faithful probably stopped any serious protests against the board but the mutterings on the Internet was ever growing larger as fans contemplated a close season with Blues not being able to bring in players.

Peter Pannu did what he could to address those concerns, offering a statement in the programme notes for the home leg of the playoff that the accounts would be out before the playoff final but once again they failed to appear and as I write this piece the current deadline that has been given has been the end of May. I will have to admit I’m sceptical that will be met.

On the pitch May was a month of heartbreak but also of pride in the fans. Blues travelled away to Blackpool in the first leg of the playoff final and despite being played off the park at times they came back only a single goal down – but for the woodwork they could have drawn or even won the game however as Marlon King hit both the bar and the post and the Blackpool goal only came about because of a massive deflection off Curtis Davies. That being said the midfield was completely outplayed and Blues didn’t have a handle at all on the game.

Blues could have levelled the tie early on in the home leg but once again Marlon King hit the woodwork and as the game went on, Blackpool grew into the match. The Tangerines extended their lead through former Blues target Stephen Dobbie at the end of the first half as Colin Doyle contrived to be beaten at the near post when it looked easier to block the shot. Straight after the half time break it became 3-0 on aggregate as Matt Phillips sprung the offside trap to slot home past Doyle.

Blues have been resilient all season however, and they weren’t going to lie down and die. The introduction of teenage winger Nathan Redmond seemed to galvanise the Blues and on 64 minutes Zigic beat the Blackpool offside trap to slot home past Gilks. Ten minutes later Curtis Davies thumped home a header from a corner to make it 2-2 on the night, and for ten minutes or so the dream was back on. Blues threw the kitchen sink at Blackpool and Davies went close with another header from a corner but they just couldn’t summon the third goal to take it into extra time. The whistle blew on a marathon 62-game season and you had to feel for the players on the pitch who were clearly as emotional and upset as the crowd felt.

However, one of the enduring themes of this season has been one of pride in the team and I’ve got goosebumps now remembering the reception that the fans gave the team and the manager after the game. We might have failed to get to Wembley but the message was clear – the fans were proud of what had been achieved in the light of so many troubles off the pitch and they wanted Chris Hughton to know how much they wanted him to stay.

Whilst all Blues might have to show in the record books is a fourth placed finish after sixty two games and eleven thousand miles it’s been a season that has given us incredible memories – possibly the most exciting season that I can remember. It’s been a season of highs and lows, and of goals – lots and lots of goals but more than anything it’s been a season when I feel the soul has returned to the club. I’ve never seen such unity between the players, the manager and the fans and if I could hope for one thing in this uncertain future it’s that continues. There may be joys, there may be sorrows but if we’re all together at the end of the road then it’s all I want.

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9 Responses to “That Was The Season That Was Part V”

  • DoctorD says:

    In the cold light of day, you have to say that fourth place was a fabulous showing. Okay there was no promotion, but we held our own and climbed steadily up the table once all those games in hand started to be played. In the grand scheme of things, we were the 18th club in England last year and the 24th this. It’s just unfortunate that the gap between the two divisions is so enormous financially. In terms of football as entertainment, thought, you could argue things are better lwhere we are now.

  • Tom says:

    Sky Sports News has confirmed that Jack Ruddy is out of the England euro sqaud due to injury does this now mean the young Jack Butland will be in the team??
    bet the young lad is waiting for a phone call cumon Roy give him a ring

  • Paul Carter says:

    Brilliant

    We may even start playing him now

    • Trevor Honnor says:

      Another England debut before his Blues debut :o)

      It could happen in a friendly!

  • DoctorD says:

    Great news. The tournament experience will be invaluable. Quiz question — who was the last Blues player to be included in an England tournament squad??

    • Paul Carter says:

      Upson was included in England’s squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

  • Oldbluenose says:

    What a fantastic ending to our season this has been,!!. we had thought at the begining that we would have had real problems, — But CH, really got to grips with our club, even with such a depleted squad, considering we played 62 matches, [ Europe, F-A cup and the full Championship programe,!!.
    We can look back and mourne all the draws from winning starts, but remembering the grueling number of matches with a squad of ” Freebies, Loans and so-called lesser players “, Despite problems off the pitch with the non-existant Chairman and board, [ Pannue exempted ] we can be truly proud of our club,!!

    • Art Watson says:

      Living in Cyprus it was great to read your review of the last seasons high and lows
      but how about the future?


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