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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Tuesday, April 10th 2018

Big Match Preview: Birmingham City home

City return to Ashton Gate for one of their few remaining home games of the season when they host Birmingham City.

Their task of securing a play-off place continues against a Blues side fighting for their Championship lives.

The Robins suffered their first defeat of the season back at St Andrew's in August so they'll be out for revenge tonight.

However, they haven't beaten the Blues in their last 14 attempts, so there's no better time to put an end to that unfortunate run.

FACTFILE

Formed 1875
Nickname Blues
Website www.bcfc.com
Twitter @BCFC
Ground St Andrew's
Capacity 29,409

Honours
Second Division 1892/93, 1920/21, 1947/48, 1954/55
Division Two 1994/95
Division Two play-off winners 2001/02
League Cup 1962/63, 2010/11
EFL Trophy 1990/91, 1994/95
Birmingham Senior Cup 1904/05
Football League South (wartime) 1945/46

Last season
League finish
19th in Championship
FA Cup Third round, lost to Newcastle United
EFL Cup First round, lost to Oxford United
Top scorer Lukas Jutkiewicz, 12 goals
Player of the Year David Davis
Average attendance 18,717

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Birmingham City had to win at Ashton Gate on the final day of last season to preserve their place in the Sky Bet Championship.

It is ironic therefore, that they head back to BS3 almost a year on where a win tonight could prove crucial to their survival hopes once more.

Belief has been restored somewhat as they have managed improved form since Garry Monk replaced Steve Cotterill back in early March and they head south to Bristol with the aim of doing the league double over Lee Johnson’s City.

But the Robins need a win to keep their hopes of a play-off finish alive.

Garry Monk

MEET THE GAFFER: GARRY MONK

Monk’s move to Birmingham City makes the club his fourth venture during his short time in management.

The former defender hung up his boots four years ago after a final stint as player-manager with Swansea. He was appointed permanent boss of the South Wales club in May of that year and enjoyed a 2014/15 season which included double wins over Manchester United and Arsenal. But poor form the following year saw his sacking come December before he took the reigns at Leeds United.

Despite early exits in the EFL Cup and FA Cup, his squad looked odds-on for a Sky Bet Championship play-off spot before a dismal run of form struck. He ultimately missed out on the 2017 play-offs and resigned from his role at Elland Road at the end of the season.

Monk took over at promotion-chasing Middlesbrough last June, but he now faces a test at the opposite end of the table with Birmingham City.

Jacques-Maghoma in action for Birmingham City
Jacques Maghoma

STAR MAN: JACQUES MAGHOMA

Midfielder Maghoma has been the reliant star with both a handful of goals and assists for his team during what has been a tough season for the club and he has continued to impress during their revival under Monk.

The Democratic Republic of Congo international was a free signing at St Andrew’s in June 2015 following spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Burton Albion.

Maghoma, who scored in the reverse fixture back in August, looks set to play a key part in the Blues' fight to avoid relegation, who are without the suspended Che Adams.

Stephen Pearson opened the scoring for City at St Andrew's in 2012

MEMORABLE MEETING: 2011/12

BIRMINGHAM CITY 2-2 BRISTOL CITY
Pearson 21, Stead 33; King 44, Zigic 61

A resurgent City side were inching closer to Championship survival after priceless back-to-back wins over Easter, and played some sparkling football in the first half at St Andrew’s.

Stephen Pearson opened the scoring in the first half at the end of a superb team move, before Jon Stead’s shot on the turn flew into the top corner to double the lead.

City were sitting pretty, but Marlon King’s goal back just before the interval was the catalyst for a swing in momentum.

Lanky Serbian Nikola Zigic tapped in a low cross from Chris Burke to ensure a share of the spoils, but City were a point closer to their target.

Birmingham: Doyle; Ramage, Davies, Caldwell, Murphy; Burke, Fahey (Gomis 36), Mutch, Townsend (Redmond, 76); King, Zigic (E Huseklepp, 89). Subs not used: Ibanez, Elliott.

City: Gerken; Carey, Amougou, Fontaine, Foster; Skuse, Cisse (Ephraim, 78), Woolford (Kilkenny, 89), Pearson; Stead (Adomah 73) Wood. Subs not used: James, Bolasie.

Attendance: 23,230.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Assistant Referees: Matt Foley & James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: Kevin Johnson

Betting (via Sky Bet) - Odds correct at time of writing
City - 10/11
Draw - 12/5
Birmingham - 16/5

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