May 4, 2013
Rhodes to the rescue
Jordan Rhodes underlined his importance to Blackburn as his equaliser ensured Blackburn brought the curtain down on a troubled season with a 1-1 draw at Birmingham.
The striker, an £8million signing last summer, headed home his 28th goal of the campaign at St Andrew's to ensure Blackburn - all but mathematically safe going into the final day - finished the npower Championship season four points and five places above the drop zone.
With the Lancashire outfit only managing 55 goals in total, Rhodes' exploits have proved pivotal to their bid to avoid back-to-back relegations - a fate which Wolves have failed to avoid.
The draw ends a season to forget for Blackburn, who have gone through an astonishing six managers since the opening day.
On-loan West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison's neat skill and finish had put Birmingham into the lead just before at half-time, with Rovers momentarily out of the bottom three merely due to their beneficial goal difference.
The Blues, who have endured a difficult year themselves, ended the season just about in the top half with a mid-table 12th-placed finish and a final record of results which says very much about where they currently stand - 15 wins, 16 draws, 15 defeats.
Recalled midfielder Morgaro Gomis whistled a long-range left-footed effort narrowly wide for the hosts within the opening minute but that was the only real moment of excitement inside the opening stages.
Paul Caddis forced Grzegorz Sandomierski into a routine save before Morten Gamst Pedersen, in plenty of space on the right, fired off target at the other end soon after.
Nikola Zigic found himself in a good position for Birmingham midway through the first half but could only hit the side-netting.
Caddis' terrible back pass then put Butland in all sorts of trouble with Rhodes closing in but the England goalkeeper, making his final Blues appearance before his departure for Stoke, cleared the danger.
Sandomierski got down well to his right to tip Nathan Redmond's low shot around a post as the home side continued to look more likely to break the deadlock, Chris Burke firing narrowly wide.
Birmingham finally got the goal they deserved just before half-time as Morrison showed neat skill before converting into the bottom corner from just inside the penalty area.
As in the first half, there was very little to get excited about at the start of the second period.
But all that changed, especially for the the travelling contingent, in the 66th minute.
Pedersen's long throw was flicked on by Grant Hanley and Butland did well to save from David Jones but Rhodes was on hand to head home the rebound.
Birmingham, below par after the break, huffed and puffed as they looked to retake the lead but were let down by poor decision-making and a lack of quality in the final third, with manager Lee Clark an animated subject on the sidelines.
As the game petered out, it was difficult to see anything other than a third successive 1-1 draw between the two sides.
|Birmingham City||Blackburn Rovers|
|1 Jack Butland||29 Grzegorz Sandomierski|
|30 Paul Robinson||16 Scott Dann|
|6 Curtis Davies||31 Grant Hanley|
|28 Paul Caddis||19 Todd Kane|
|32 Shane Ferguson||17 Lee Williamson|
|15 Wade Elliott||12 Morten Gamst Pedersen|
|7 Chris Burke||36 David Jones|
|14 Morgaro Gomis||24 Josh Morris|
|22 Nathan Redmond||11 Jordan Rhodes|
|12 Ravel Morrison||25 David Goodwillie|
|19 Nikola Zigic||15 Joshua King|
|13 Colin Doyle||Matthew Urwin 45|
|4 Steven Caldwell||Gael Givet 5|
|8 Hayden Mullins||Karim Rekik 23|
|26 Oliver Lee||David Bentley 35|
|33 Callum Reilly||Cameron Stewart 32|
|16 Koby Arthur||John O'Sullivan 44|
|21 Akwasi Asante||Nuno Gomes 21|
|Callum Reilly for Morgaro Gomis (73)||Cameron Stewart for Lee Williamson (46)|
|John O'Sullivan for David Goodwillie (76)|
|· Squads: Birmingham City | Blackburn Rovers|