Birmingham entertain Barnsley at St Andrew's on Tuesday night in a televised Championship tussle and Mark O'Haire isn't expecting any early drama...
"Only Sheffield Wednesday (1.36) are seeing fewer goals per-game than Birmingham’s 1.57 posted under Aitor Karanka"
Birmingham v Barnsley
Tuesday December 1, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Birmingham involved in another goalless draw
Birmingham played out a fourth goalless draw of the season on Saturday as Blues were held at home by Millwall. Goalmouth action was limited in a desperately tepid first half, and the best chance fell to Aitor Karanka's hosts when Maxime Colin's lofted ball to the far post was just too high for Lukas Jutkiewicz to direct his header on-target.
Chances remained limited after the break, Kristian Pedersen heading over for Birmingham when unmarked from Ivan Sanchez's cross, typifying a contest low on quality and composure. The visitors almost snatched a late winner with the game's only moment of quality when his overhead kick drew a fine save from home keeper Neil Etheridge.
Ultimately, a seventh stalemate of the campaign was for Blues was the right outcome in a match lacking inspiration and adventure with just three shots on-target recorded. Exciting new signing Alen Halilovic was not included in the squad but is expected to make his debut against Barnsley on Tuesday night as Karanka looks to find the right balance in his XI.
Barnsley lacked clinical edge
Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael said the Tykes lacked the 'killer mentality' and their defending was 'not good enough' in a 2-1 loss at Blackburn on Saturday. The Reds created several chances but found themselves 2-0 down before Romal Palmer pulled one back late on as they slipped to back-to-back Championship defeats for the first time since September.
Ismael said: "We have two faces. The first face says the performance was exactly what we wanted - aggression, intensity winning the ball deep and trying to finish quick. But the other one says we had 23 attempts, 11 corners and we scored once. We have to find the killer mentality. When you are in good shape in a game, you have to score."
Mads Andersen, Conor Chaplin, Cauley Woodrow, Callum Styles and Callum Brittain were all guilty of not take their chances in a contest that saw Herbie Kane make his first start for the club. Luke Thomas was also drafted into the starting line-up with Matty James and Dominik Frieser benched at Ewood Park; Ismael may opt to shuffle his pack against at St Andrew's.
Birmingham did the double over Barnsley last season, earning a 2-0 triumph on home soil in August, as well as a 1-0 success at Oakwell earlier in the campaign. However, Blues' record when welcoming the Tyles hasn't always been quite as convincing with the Reds earning top honours in three of their last five road trips to St Andrew's in league action (W3-D1-L1).
Birmingham 2.6813/8 have bagged just three wins in 14 Championship contests under Aitor Karanka in 2020/21, although four defeats - three by one-goal margins - reinforce the idea that Blues work off small margins. The Spaniard's safety-first attitude ensures City are rarely overawed but goalmouth action can be scarce, leading to an abnormally-high draw return.
Barnsley 2.982/1 opened their account without a win in seven but the visitors arrive having taken 12 points from their most recent seven showdowns (W4-D0-L3). The Reds have impressed with their high-intensity football, and willingness to attack, although results on the road have failed to follow (W1-D2-L4). Still, Valerien Ismael's side are no easy meat.
Only Sheffield Wednesday (1.36) are seeing fewer goals per-game than Birmingham's 1.57 posted under Aitor Karanka. Unsurprisingly, 10 of those 14 fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals 1.654/6 with half failing to even produce two goals or more. At least one side has failed to score in seven of Blues' league outings and City have fired blanks on six occasions.
Barnsley have found the back of the net in nine of their most recent 11 league games, six of which delivered Over 2.5 Goals 2.206/5. Five of those 11 also saw 'No' in the Both Teams To Score column click and a repeat could be of interest at 1.9310/11.
But a more appealing poke is to support the Half-Time Draw at 2.021/1 quotes - 10 of Birmingham's 14 fixtures have been level at the interval, as have six of Barnsley's games this term. It could be a slow-burner at St Andrew's.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 46.00 pts
Returned: 55.70 pts
P/L: +9.70 pts