With two draws, one win and one defeat, it was certainly a mixed bag for West Midlands’ clubs in this round of fixtures. In The Championship Birmingham City came unstuck away to high flying Brighton, whilst in League One Wolves came out on top in their high flying clash against Preston at Molineux. In the same division Walsall could only manage a point away at Tranmere, whilst Coventry were part of a pulsating ‘home’ draw against Crawley.
Starting in The Championship, Birmingham City’s 10 match unbeaten run came to an end against playoff chasing Brighton at The Amex Stadium. In a one sided encounter where Blues only registered one shot on target, David Lopez’s goal on the hour was the difference. Lee Clark’s men set up to frustrate Albion and in a dogged first half display, they frustrated their hosts but the pressure eventually told. Their recent form has seen them open up an 8 point gap on the relegation places but Clark still felt his side lacked the clinical edge to create chances, as shown by the fact Blues have now failed to bother the scorers in 3 of the last 5 league matches.
In League One, Wolves shrugged aside their mid-season slump in form to record only their 2nd victory in 8 games, running out 2-0 winners over Preston North End at home. In one of their more complete performances in recent weeks, Jackett’s men scored either side of half time to end Preston’s 13 match unbeaten run. Edwards opened the scoring to ensure Wolves’ early dominance did not go without reward. Shortly afterwards Preston’s top scorer Garner hit the angle of post and bar following an audacious curling effort from 25 yards. Wolves sealed their win over 4th placed North End when Evans followed in James Henry’s rasping near post effort. Wanderers still find themselves behind the top 2 having played a game more, but this victory ensured they opened up a 5 point gap on their visitors.
At Prenton Park it was a familiar story for Walsall, as despite all their dominance they only had 1 point to show for their efforts. Milan Lalkovic, celebrating extending his loan deal from Chelsea, opened the scoring with a sumptuous 25 yard strike. Craig Westcarr could have ended the game only 60 seconds later, when he missed a good chance to put The Saddlers 2 up. Despite controlling proceedings for large parts of the game, the lowest scorers in the top half could once again not turn their dominance in goals and substitute Stockton earned a point for the struggling hosts with 12 minutes to go. Dean Smith’s men find themselves on the cusp of the play off spots and was it not for the late Rovers goal they would already find themselves in the top 6.
At a sparsely populated Sixfields Stadium, Coventry conceded 2 late goals which gifted Crawley a point. In a first period which the ‘home’ side dominated, Coventry couldn’t open the scoring until the 41st minute when Mat Sadler put the ball in his own net. Crawley came out in the second half with much greater purpose and tested Coventry regularly. However, a combination of a Webster header and Moussa’s poaching looked to have given The Sky Blues a comfortable 3 points. After coming from behind in their last 4 games, it was Coventry’s turn to throw an advantage away, Proctor headed home with 7 minutes to go to give Gregory’s men a glimmer of hope before Sergio Torres ran the ‘home’ side’s defence ragged and put the ball in the box for Drury to claim what seemed a hugely unlikely point.
With only one victory for the West Midland clubs, Wolves gain the performance of the week. They managed to not only overcome their worrying form, but also managed to beat a member of the top 6 for the first time this season.