Birmingham City 3-1 Rotherham United Player Ratings: Pedersen performs


Lukasz Jutkiewicz scored a hat-trick as Birmingham City secured their first home win of the season in a 3-1 victory over Championship strugglers Rotherham United at St Andrews. Here’s our Six Things from the game.

Birmingham City

Lee Camp – it would be a stretch to say that the goalkeeper rediscovered the 2015-16 form that saw him named Rotherham’s Player of the Year, but he certainly didn’t put in a bad performance. Made a good stop from Manning in the first half, then twice denied Vassell late on; the one time he did drop the ball briefly, he then produced an excellent throw which set Maghoma free. Encouraging signs. 7

Maxime Colin – the right-back had the freedom to make some marauding runs against deep-lying visitors and he linked up nicely at times with Jota. His positioning for Rotherham’s goal might be questioned but a good performance overall. 7
Michael Morrison – the skipper, who scored against Brentford in midweek, rightly got some pre-match recognition after reaching 150 appearances for the club. It was fitting, therefore, that Morrison defended his box superbly here; the defence missed his organizational qualities after he went off due to a broken nose. Although an injury isn’t a good thing, his willingness to put his head in where it hurts sums up his commitment to the club over the last four years. 9
Harlee Dean – the former Brentford centre-back has been a tad erratic in his positioning in recent weeks and he didn’t get off to the best start here, giving the ball away once or twice. He improved after Blues scored the opener, even if he might feel he could have done better for the consolation goal. 6
Kristian Pedersen – right from the first minute, which saw him launch into a sliding challenge, it was clear that the Dane was up for this match. He powered forward well on occasions and picked out some nice cross-field balls, too in a very strong performance. 8

Jota – the sparkling Spaniard danced in between Rotherham’s lines and was at times a delight to watch when he linked up with Colin. After playing a crucial role in the first two goals, he caused all manner of problems for Mattock down the right at the start of the second period. Arguably the best player in the bottom half of the Championship. 8
Gary Gardner – since the industrious midfielder came into the side, Garry Monk’s men have lost just once and been the better side in almost every game, which is testament to his influence. He battled well here and was very quick to second balls, even if the quality of his first half free-kick left something to be desired. 7
Maikel Kieftenbeld – the tough-tackling midfielder had his red card rescinded and was eligible to play this match, which was a massive boost for Blues; the Dutchman grabbed control of the midfield almost single-handedly at times due to his incredible energy levels. 8
Jacques Maghoma – the speedster is a key creative influence for the B9 outfit and suggestions that he has been off-colour, both on Saturday and this season generally, are perhaps a tad unfair. Maghoma made one or two strong runs down the left in the first half, then got on the end of various second half moves between Jota and the front two; had he stayed on here, he might have done even more damage as space in behind opened up. 7

Lukasz Jutkiewicz – what a performance! Eight days ago, Jutkiewicz had been faring well but with just a solitary goal; it appeared he’d be tasked with occupying centre-backs, winning aerial duels and holding it up, but others would carry the goalscoring burden. Since then, the former Burnley striker has scored five goals in three; although thankful for questionable goalkeeping and defending for his first two here, he drilled home his third superbly from Jota’s free-kick lay-off. The 29-year-old richly deserved his match ball and might now be starting to see the fruits of his labour. 10
Che Adams – any question marks over Adams’ work rate here seem unfair. Yes, there were one or two occasions on which he didn’t quite latch on to Jutkiewicz’s flick-on – which is almost inevitable over 90 minutes – but the former Sheffield United youngster got through a lot of work pressing the opposition back. He looked lively throughout with a number of bright runs between the lines and even tried one or two backheels, as if to emphasize the confidence with which he is starting to play. 8

Marc Roberts (on 74) – although highly-rated at Barnsley, the centre-back has struggled in B9 and perhaps he was too quick to close down Vassell’s cross in the lead-up to Rotherham’s goal. 4
Connor Mahoney (on 75) – the exciting winger made an impact from the bench last time out and we saw evidence of his tricky footwork once again. Looks slightly more impactful than Maghoma in tight spaces but perhaps less likely to sustain a sprint over long distances. 6
Bez Lubala (on 90) – the academy graduate was only on the pitch for the six minutes of injury-time, but it was enough for him to show his searing pace. 6

Rotherham United

Marek Rodak – the goalkeeper, who first made his name in the EFL at Accrington in 2016-17, has been in good form so far this season but it’s fair to say this is an afternoon he will want to forget. The 21-year-old might have done better with the second goal, but certainly he should have done more to keep out Jutkiewicz’s header inside the near-post, having placed himself perfectly. 3

Billy Jones – the former Premier League right-back was always unlikely to offer much pace or width, so his performance hinged on the defensive stability he could offer and the accuracy of his passing; it has to be said he didn’t really impress in either category. 4
Semi Ajayi – the centre-back has put in some strong performances for Rotherham but this wasn’t among them. Without being directly at fault for any of the goals, the 24-year-old looked erratic and error-prone, too often vacating his position. One imagines he might fare better alongside an experienced centre-back like Richard Wood, but seemingly isn’t suited to being the tutor within a pairing rather than the tutee. 4
Will Vaulks – with Richard Wood, Sean Raggett and Clark Robertson all injured, the man who won the 2017-18 Player of the Year award for his midfield performances has been forced to stretch his capabilities further by starting at centre-back. Vaulks was guilty of leaving Jutkiewicz in acres of space for the opener and while he could be forgiven for doing the same for the second due to covering the line, he still didn’t look comfortable away from his natural position. 3
Joe Mattock – as we saw in the lead-up to the second goal and on numerous other occasions, the former Sheffield Wednesday left-back endured a torrid time against Jota. He appeared to pick up a knock early in the second half – it’s unclear whether Paul Warne didn’t notice that, or did notice it but declined to make a change without a natural alternative left-back on the bench. 3

Matty Palmer – the former Burton midfielder struggled for game time in September; he took his opportunity with a positive performance on Wednesday but this was a mixed display. Struggled to adjust to the physical element of the game in the first half but, when given more space after the break, we saw more of his technical capabilities. Palmer’s desire and energy has never been in question, but on this evidence he perhaps needs to become more assertive in tight spaces. 5

Ryan Manning – the QPR loanee has been a useful creative outlet this season but this was a difficult afternoon for the midfielder, who will not be especially pleased with his performance, even if he forced a good save from Camp in the first half. Completed just 59% of his passes, which is the lowest rate of any midfielder on the pitch. 4

Jon Taylor – the former Peterborough man endured a quiet first half, but he started to occupy Kieftenbeld a little more after the break with some bright runs; he also showed good movement to get ahead of Dean and pull a goal back late on. 6
Ryan Williams – the former Barnsley man has been arguably Rotherham’s stand-out performer in recent weeks and that trend continued here. Whenever Smith was able to make contact with the ball, Williams was always the one picking up the pieces, taking players on and he saw one first half effort blocked. Worked hard off the ball, too and one wonders, in a side that enjoys more possession in the final third, whether he could truly thrive at this level. 7
Joe Newell – the wide man, who has been a bright spark since recently returning from injury, was keen to perform well against his boyhood club. His relative lack of pace compared with most wide men though meant his technique needed to be excellent and while Newell showed one or two nice touches in the first half, the quality of his deliveries – in open play and from set pieces – left a lot to be desired. 4

Michael Smith – the former Bury striker actually won one or two of the few balls that were hit to him accurately, but the majority weren’t and so he was often tasked with wild-goose chases; hardly ideal for a lanky striker who is playing through a minor injury and who has never had much pace anyway. It’s therefore difficult to lay too much blame for Rotherham’s poor performance at Smith’s door. 5

Kyle Vassell (on 55) – the forward remains without a goal for Rotherham after seeing two shots saved by Camp, but he certainly put in a positive shift and crossed for Taylor’s goal shortly after coming on. 7
Ben Wiles (on 63) – the highly-rated academy graduate displayed the bravery to run at Birmingham’s defence and injected raw energy into Rotherham’s performance. The 19-year-old could be a real asset to the Millers over the next three or four years as he continues his exciting development. 8
Zak Vyner (on 88) – the defender, back available after being forced to sit out the midweek game against his parent club, was brought on late on to allow Ajayi to move up top. 5