Birmingham City 1-1 Bristol City Player Ratings: Roberts rocked

Jutkiewicz celebrates the opener – https://www.bcfc.com/ (Roy Smiljanic)

Tommy Rowe’s late equalizer forced Pep Clotet to settle for a point in his first home game as Birmingham City head coach, although the Spaniard can take plenty of positives from the performance that saw Lukas Jutkiewicz open the second half scoring in a 1-1 draw. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Birmingham City

Lee Camp – although Camp came under criticism last season, he performed well here and denied Afobe twice; unlucky not to keep a clean sheet. Nice to hear his name being chanted midway through the second half. 7

Maxime Colin – the Frenchman combined well down the right with Crowley and Gardner in the first half, making some positive overlapping runs. Asked to move to left wing-back after Jutkiewicz’s second half opener and the change of position did not necessarily suit him. 7
Harlee Dean – the former Brentford centre-back continued his positive individual start to the campaign with a sturdy display. Clotet’s new system requires centre-backs to make overlapping runs and Dean did this willingly, although the quality of his crossing was not perfect. 7
Marc Roberts – the former Barnsley man was arguably among the game’s stand-out players. He roundly got the better of Afobe in one-on-one duels, made some good blocks, produced a peach of a cross to the back-post for the opener and, late on, posed a threat from long throws. 9
Kristian Pedersen – the Dane did not provide quite as many overlapping runs as would have been ideal, especially with Villalba cutting inside so frequently. He was, though far braver in possession when playing through the press than we saw last season, which shows he has been very receptive to Clotet’s ideas. 7

Gary Gardner – although we often associate Gary Gardner with solidity, he is arguably a more nuanced midfielder than is sometimes recognized. Gardner showed good movement at times to support play in the right channel, his first touch was generally simple yet accurate and positive; the former Barnsley man also curled an effort narrowly off-target midway through the opening period. 7
Ivan Sunjic – the Croatia Under-21s captain took no time to become a hit at St Andrews; he was disciplined off the ball and clever on it, with one or two impressive turns changing his vision of play in a split-second. 8
David Davis – for all the talk of Clotet’s tiki-taka revolution at St Andrews, it was ironic that perhaps the biggest non-goal cheer of the day came when Davis did some fiercely determined tracking back to stop Bristol City breaking. While Birmingham will be a more technical side this season, Davis’ presence means the team still possesses the battling qualities that fans can relate to and that is hugely important. 6

Dan Crowley – the attacking midfielder looked tidy in possession on his home debut; he excelled at finding pockets of space, then dinking through balls when combining with Colin, Gardner and others. Might feel unfortunate to have been taken off. 7
Fran Villalba – the diminutive midfielder made some jinking runs in from the left channel; he showed a real eye for a pass but also threatened from range, curling an effort midway through the first half that forced a stop from Bentley. 8

Lukas Jutkiewicz – the target man was effective in the second half; both after Bristol City’s equalizer and before his opener. To find the net, Jutkiewicz showed the intelligence to peel off to the back-post and pick a one-on-one duel with a defender he felt he had an aerial advantage over. 7

Wes Harding (on 66) – the academy graduate made some lung-busting forward runs, but might have been guilty of a lapse in concentration for City’s equalizer, letting Rowe get in ahead of him. 5
Agus Medina (on 89)

Bristol City

Daniel Bentley – the goalkeeper denied Villalba in the first half, but might have been more commanding when dealing with the cross that led to Jutkiewicz’s equalizer. Often seemed to go long with his goal-kicks. 5

Bailey Wright – Bristol City let go of Eros Pisano this summer, but one might argue the Italian might have been more suited to playing right-sided centre-back in this 3-4-3 setup, because he has the willingness, intelligence and technique to contribute with overlapping runs. Wright, although a good defender, does not have those qualities and thus could not support attacks so well. 5
Tomas Kalas – after signing for Bristol City on a permanent deal in the summer, Kalas had a solid game and dealt with everything that was thrown at him. 7
Nathan Baker – a similar issue to Wright. When unaffected by injury, Baker is a very good Championship centre-back in terms of aggressively defending his penalty area. Playing wide in a back-three, however – especially in a fundamentally possession-based system – it is important to offer more going forward than Baker did on Saturday. 5

Pedro Pereira – the Benfica loanee will not want to remember the moment he tried a fancy trick but lost his balance and saw the ball go out of play. That moment showed Pereira is a player who trusts himself technically and he demonstrated his quality with one or two accurate crosses, but was unable to become a prominent influence on the contest. 5
Adam Nagy – when Bristol City played Leeds last week, they looked short of somebody to protect the defence and keep things tidy – Marlon Pack should have been that figure in theory but has since joined Cardiff on loan – so City fans can be encouraged by Nagy’s debut. He kept hold of the ball well and tried to establish an element of control for his side, which he did with some success for spells in the second half. Could get better as the season goes on. 7
Kasey Palmer – the Chelsea recruit has historically been an attacking midfielder – the type of player to bring on at half-time to improve your pressing and liven things up. Interestingly, though Johnson seems to be using Palmer in a slightly deeper role this season – he seems to think the team will benefit more from giving the ex-Huddersfield man more of the ball. It is hard to argue with that, because Palmer helped Nagy control periods of the second half and, with all the chances City created including Rowe’s equalizer, it tended to be him playing the through ball. 8
Tommy Rowe – the Doncaster recruit was a left-field addition – literally and metaphorically – due to his career history of playing in the Championship and not possessing any sell-on value. It was a quiet afternoon for Rowe, although he showed intelligent movement to drill home the equalizer. 6

Josh Brownhill – with Nagy sitting, Brownhill was tasked with being the dynamo – the risk-taker – in Bristol City’s midfield, so he will be disappointed to have had such a quiet afternoon. It could be that he pushed forward too early into congested space and thus did not have the opportunity to influence proceedings with his usual driving runs. 5

Andreas Weimann – the former Aston Villa forward was normally the one Bristol City looked too when they wanted to play an early ball forward, mainly due to his selfless running power. The lack of collective fluency in Bristol City’s build-up play meant it felt, at times, like Weimann had to do a lot of work individualistically to create any chances for his teammates. 7
Benik Afobe – the thing Afobe needs to do this season is not worry about how many goals he is scoring: he needs to get to the gym, work on his upper body strength, stamina, improve his link-up play – everything he can do to help his team that isn’t finishing. Part of the problem is that, because Diedhiou isn’t a great finisher, Afobe has been brought in primarily for his goalscoring record at this level – but putting too much emphasis on that side of his game could do more harm than good. Because Afobe did not contribute anything in general play in B9, he perhaps felt under pressure when the two big chances did come. 4

Jack Hunt (on 51) – made some good forward runs, but might have been fortunate to have been given a yellow card for a badly-timed challenge on Villalba. 6
Famara Diedhiou (on 72) – put himself about and helped improve the intensity of Bristol City’s pressing. There’s an argument to say Diedhiou should start the next match, with Afobe coming off the bench if City want to go two up top. 7
Niclas Eliasson (on 72) – City improved when they sacrificed a centre-back for one of the best crossers in the Championship. Perhaps only thing stopping Eliasson from getting into Lee Johnson’s starting XI could be that he’s not the type of player that likes to come inside and perhaps lacks a certain element of flexibility. 7