Blues player ratings as Friend makes strong return at Forest

Blues player ratings as Friend makes strong return at Forest

Nothing could separate Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest in a Boxing Day non-event at the City Ground.

Overall Forest had the better of the first half, while Blues were stronger in the second but in truth neither side’s goalkeeper had much to do in an edgy encounter between two out of form teams.

Predictably a tight game ended goalless and with both managers able to point to one or two positives against a backdrop of limitations and frustration

Alen Halilovic was given his first start in a Blues shirt but in truth the first half passed him by with the visitors unable to mount any kind of meaningful attack.

Forest weren’t brilliant in the opening 45 but they had enough possession to produce the free kicks and corner to worry Aitor Karanka.


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The only notable save of the period came from Neil Etheridge who did well after Lewis Grabban had knocked down for Ryan Yates to shoot from ten yards. The Blues goalkeeper beat Yates’ attempt away.

At the other end Halilovic had one shot deflected harmlessly behind for a corner, while Jeremie Bela’s drive was blocked by Marc Roberts.

The visitors were slightly better after the break and produced their best move of the game ten minutes after the restart.

Ivan Sanchez won the ball back high up the pitch and slid Ivan Sunjic down the side but the Croatian could only shoot weakly at Brice Samba.

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Bela should have done better when Max Colin’s cross dropped to him unmarked ten yards out but he scuffed his volley.

With 12 minutes to go Scott Hogan turned Marc Roberts’ lump forward into a good pass, the striker laid off for Sanchez who picked his way into the box, opened his body but his low shot was pushed away by Brice Samba.

Etheridge made a good save from Tobias Figueiredo late on.



Birmingham City players huddle together before the game against Nottingham Forest

STARTING FORMATION

4-2-3-1

PLAYERS

ETHERIDGE 6.5

Only one save of note to make in the first half, beating away Ryan Yates’ hooked attempt. Very little to do in the second half until a late block from Figueiredo.

COLIN 6.5

Up against the dangerous Alex Mighten and effectively neutralised the youngster’s attacking threat. Didn’t offer too much going the other way but largely decent.

ROBERTS 5.5

Constantly gave the ball away in the opening 45 minutes in which he seemed constantly flustered. Seemed less pressured after the break but his distribution didn’t improve. Mostly fine without the ball, poor with it.

DEAN 7

Started off erratically, losing possession and getting sucked out of position but settled and gave another accomplished performance.

FRIEND 7*

A welcome return to the team, notable for a huge challenge in which he cleaned out Cyrus Christie. Featured sporadically in attack but was studious to his defensive duty.

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SUNJIC 6

Showed more energy than any other Blues player in the first half – that said his passing radar was off. Started the second by adding a soft shot to Blues’ best attack of the game. Lots of energy, not much precision.

CLAYTON 6

Karanka made a show of faith in the veteran having subbed him at half time last time out. He did OK without every stamping any authority on proceedings.

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SANCHEZ 6.5

Barely involved in the opening period as what little possession Blues did have came down the left. More prominent after the break setting up Sunjic and then creating but missing his team’s best chance.

HALILOVIC 5.5

One outrageous early turn took him away from Ryan Yates but despite some bright touches he constantly seemed short of options before being taken off with an injury at half time.



Alen Halilovic of Birmingham City in action against Nottingham Forest

BELA 5.5

Really poor opening 45 given the fact he had most of what ball Blues managed to get. One or two bright moments in the second but this time there was no end product.

HOGAN 5.5

Came into the game more in the second period but give the fact he spent most of it with his back to goal his impact was always going to be compromised.



Scott Hogan is put under pressure by Ryan Yates and Joe Worrall

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SUBSTITUTES

Gardner (for Halilovic, 45) 6 Good contribution

Jutkiewicz (for Hogan 90+1) N/A

Not used: Prieto, Pedersen, Dacres-Cogley, San Jose, Kieftenbeld, McGree, Leko.

OPPOSITION

FOREST (4-2-3-1): Samba; Christie, Figueiredo, Worrall, Ribiero; Sow (Taylor 58), Yates; Mighten (Lolley 68), Cafu, Ameobi (Knockaert 60); Grabban. Not used: Smith, Soh, Bong, Jenkinson, Guerrero, Arter

REFEREE: Jeremy Simpson

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