Millers gift the goals at St Andrews

stubbs

Alan Stubbs

Rotherham gifted Birmingham four goals on Tuesday evening and fell to a 4-2 defeat at St Andrews. A dominant first half saw the Blues race to a 3-1 lead and though Jon Taylor’s goal set up a nervy second half, David Cotterill’s penalty secured victory.

Cotterill caused problems with his deliveries and tormented Darnell Fisher, who looked uncomfortable at left-back. Blues threatened early on and it came as little surprise when Michael Morrison’s looping header put the hosts in front on 15 minutes. When Blues got the ball, they often played direct, Clayton Donaldson and Lukas Jutkiewicz dominating Greg Halford and Dominic Ball in the air.

We saw the best of Birmingham’s 4-4-2 system in that game, but also the worst. Jacques Maghoma’s lack of discipline on the left of a midfield quartet at times left gaps on his flank, which Jon Taylor exploited on occasion. Rotherham’s equalizer came from that side, Danny Ward finishing off a passing move from outside the area on 31 minutes.

Birmingham responded four minutes later though, Jutkiewicz heading Cotterill’s cross into the near post corner to put them back in front. After that, Rotherham had spells of possession in their own half, their defenders at times seemed to be impersonating the Chuckle Brothers – ‘to me, to you’. Halford was caught in possession by Maghoma, who raced into the area and added a third just before half-time.

Rotherham were improved in the second half and got one back on 54 minutes, as traces of complacency crept into the Blues defence. Nobody closed down Will Vaulks, who teed up Taylor to put the Millers back into the contest.

Taylor caused problems for Jonathan Grounds, likewise Izzy Brown for Jonathan Spector in the second half as Birmingham’s full-back frailties were much in evidence. Stephen Gleeson had a difficult evening, offering little protection, as the hosts lacked aggression in their defending.

Ward worked hard, as did the rest of the high-pressing Millers side, but their end product in the final 35 minutes was found wanting. Simple errors at the back cost them dear and the game was put beyond them when bright Blues sub Che Adams was fouled by Lee Camp, Cotterill confidently dispatching the penalty.

Defeat ensures Rotherham stay bottom of the table and puts further pressure on manager Alan Stubbs, who has come under scrutiny from supporters. Birmingham cement their place in the top six, and with more tools to break down the more defensive sides this season, they may be confident of sustaining their play-off challenge.