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Blues player ratings vs Swansea: Deeney inspires Blues to vital win

Troy Deeney produced a brilliant second half display to inspire Birmingham City to a first win in eight games.

The striker also struck the team’s first goal in nine hours and 52 minutes to set Blues on their way to a vital three points.

Swansea equalised through Michael Obafemi with 13 minutes to go but Deeney then set up Riley McGree to ram home a second goal and deliver a deserved victory.

Lee Bowyer made two changes to his starting line-up, both up front where Deeney came in to play alongside Scott Hogan.

Deeney also carried the captain’s armband – as well as the hopes of his club in their search for that elusive goal.

Gary Gardner should have provided it in the tenth minute when Blues pressed high and forced an error from Matt Grimes whose stray pass was collected by the midfielder.

With Ben Hamer out of his goal Gardner adjusted his feet but could only scoop the ball over the unguided net from 25 yards.

Ten minutes later George Friend headed weakly straight at Hamer and just after the half hour the hosts beat the Swansea ‘keeper.

Tahith Chong took possession on the right and with his left-foot sent in an inswinger which Hogan nodded home – only for the assistant to raise the offside flag.

Bowyer’s team made a fast start to the second period as Chong broke with purpose down the left wing.

The Manchester United man looked up and saw Deeney on the far side of the box. The skipper took a touch and fired a right foot shot low and hard past Hamer.

Five minutes later Deeney sent Hogan clean through, with the entire Swansea half to run into.

Hogan tried to go around Hamer only for an outstretched hand to deny him.

And seconds after that Chong won the ball near the area and pulled back for Gardner, whose shot from the D was deflected wide.

Swansea stopped rocking after a ten minute onslaught and as the game became more even Jamie Paterson threaded Obafemi through on the right.

Thankfully for Blues the striker made a poor connection and pulled his effort harmlessly across goal.

Chong forced a good save out of Hamer with a quarter of an hour, with a rising 20-yard drive that needed tipping over.

Troy Deeney celebrates scoring their first goal against Swansea City

Blues were made to pay for failing to add to their lead when Gardner gave the ball away in the visitors’ half and one sweeping pass from Ryan Manning sent Obafemi clear.

The striker made light of Friend’s presence and drilled low into the corner.

Just when it seemed more frustration was on the horizon Deeney won an 83rd-minute tackle and poked McGree clear.

The Australian’s shot squirmed under Hamer and he regained his feet to ram gleefully home in front of the Tilton Road end.

Tahith Chong of Birmingham City is challenged by Korey Smith of Swansea City
Tahith Chong of Birmingham City is challenged by Korey Smith of Swansea City

Formation

3-4-2-1

Players

Sarkic 6

Nothing to do for the first 70 minutes in which he was well protected. Beaten by Obafemi’s neat finish.

Sanderson 7.5

Once again looked in complete control, making good decisions and showing a commendable athleticism. He’s good off the ball and on it.

Roberts 7

Came across behind Sanderson to put in a couple of important sliding tackles on Joel Laitbeaudiere in the opening period. Really solid in the air as expected.

Friend 6.5

Had a half chance to open the scoring but headed Roberts’ long throw straight at Hamer. Read the game well – except when Obafemi escaped for the equaliser. The only blot on a neat copybook.

Graham 7

Defensively secure keeping Latibeaudiere under wraps. Not too much opportunity in attack but did show some neat touches on the ball.

Pedersen 6.5

Wasted couple of crossing opportunities in attack but overall he took care of his defensive duty – especially as Swansea poured on the late pressure.

Gardner 6

The midfielder did well to force a tenth-minute error out of Grimes but had to do better when the goal was gaping. Indeed he really struggled when he was in possession. But worked so hard for his team.

Ivan Sunjic of Birmingham City challenges Matt Grimes of Swansea City
Ivan Sunjic of Birmingham City challenges Matt Grimes of Swansea City

Sunjic 6

Like Gardner chased and harried in the middle of the park but had none of the calm assurance of his Swansea counterparts.

Chong 7

On the fringes of the game in the opening 45 but showed quality with the ball to set up Deeney and then desire off it seconds later to snuff out a counter attack. A stinging shot almost brought his first goal too.

Hogan 6.5

Inches offside from his fourth goal of the season. Looked bright and mobile in the opening 40. Missed horribly with a one-on-one and subbed just after the hour. He was clapped off though – a sign that he’d played well.

Deeney 7.5*

A quiet first half spent wrestling the defence but came alive after the break. His finished showed admirable composure. Seconds later he split the defence to release Hogan.

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Substitutes

McGree (for Hogan, 63) Electric 7.5

Aneke (for Deeney, 85) N/A

Not used:

Woods, Jutkiewicz, Dean, Sanchez. Etheridge

Opposition

SWANSEA (3-4-2-1): Hamer; Bennett, Naughton, Manning; Laird, Smith (Obafemi 55), Grimes, Latibeaudiere; Paterson, Ntcham (Walsh 63); Piroe (Cullen 71). Not used: Benda, Williams, Cabango, Fulton

Goals

Blues : Deeney (47), McGree (83)

Swansea : Obafemi (77)

Referee : Oliver Langford



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