Despite going into the game with only one home victory in 2012, that a 2-0 win against Barnsley on Valentine's Day, hopes were high given Saturday's 5-1 win at Portsmouth and the fact that we were playing under the Turf Moor lights.
|Junior Stanislas lifted things when he came on|
The reality was, however, that we were level for only 12 minutes in the entire game and by the end of the game a Birmingham team that was very average at best were probably deserving of the points.
Eddie Howe had problems ahead of the game. It's called a dwindling squad. Of the players considered to be part of the first team squad we've got We've got Andre Amougou, Zavon Hines, Alex MacDonald and Keith Treacy all out on loan.
We knew that both Jay Rodriguez and Martin Paterson were ruled out with injury and that Ben Mee was doubtful. When Mee was declared unfit, and the manager unwilling to include Brian Easton in his squad, we were down to just 13 players.
This time Steven Hewitt and Cameron Howieson were both included on the bench as was Wes Fletcher who hasn't kicked a ball in anger since being substituted in the reserve game against Preston at Chorley in January.
That meant the team was as it was in the latter stages of the Portsmouth win, prior to Stanislas coming on, with Ross Wallace at left back. It was soon evident too that Howe had persisted with the diamond formation.
I think it's best to skim over the first half. Very little happened in 45 minutes of pretty dire football. Neither side settled particularly quickly. There were a lot of stoppages in the opening exchanges before, on 11 minutes, we gifted them a goal.
It was no more than a thrown in down the Birmingham left. Nikola Zigic, unmarked, headed it into the box where David Edgar got it all wrong and allowed Marlon King to get a shot in.
Lee Grant saved it but the ball bounced up still found its way into the net. Should Grant have done better? It's one that has divided opinion. For what it's worth I thought he was very unfortunate on this one.
Birmingham gave the impression they were happy with that and for the rest of the half didn't really suggest they were ever going to go looking for a second goal. As for us, we were awful. We offered virtually nothing but did have one good chance when Edgar, unmarked, headed well wide of the target.
It really was dire stuff in temperatures that had you thinking we were back in the middle of winter, and it was something of a relief when the half time whistle blew to allow us to get on to the concourse for a quarter of an hour away from the cold.
I didn't think much changed at the start of the second half other than Birmingham having a good opportunity to get a second. Down at the other end, Danny Ings saw his shot from distance saved by Boaz Myhill and that was about it for the first quarter of an hour.
Then Dean Marney, who I thought was our best player, was forced off after suffering a head injury. Hewitt looked to be the logical replacement but it was Stanislas who came on and that proved to be the best decision of the night.
Immediately it let us revert to a 4-4-2 system with Stanislas mainly operating on the left hand side. The formation, and his involvement in particular, finally saw us offer something to the game.
Former Claret Steven Caldwell admitted afterwards that it was like the Alamo for the next quarter of an hour as we took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Myhill halted on Stanislas run and when the ball run loose it fell to Austin almost 40-yards from goal. Seeing the empty net he tried the spectacular and only an equally spectacular clearance from defender Curtis Davies kept the scores level.
Stanislas then raided down the right and set up Ings. He should have done better but hit his shot against the bar with Austin hitting the same woodwork with a header on the rebound.
Finally, after all that pressure, the equaliser came. Stanislas just had to be involved and he was. He picked up the ball in the left hand corner, laid it back to Wallace and his cross was met by Ings who powered a header into the corner of the net.
There was just over a quarter of an hour to go and we looked the most likely to go on and win it. Birmingham had other ideas, came out of their shell and went back in front within a minute. Again it was due to King getting the better of Edgar far too easily and the striker set up Jordon Mutch for his first goal.
All the hard work had come to nothing and we were facing yet another home defeat. That was confirmed with just over a couple of minutes of normal time remaining.
By then Cameron Howieson had been given his debut and he was close by when Michael Duff gave away an unnecessary free kick on their left.
Grant failed to deal with the ball in. He parried the free kick right into the path of full back David Murphy who had the easiest of tasks of scoring Birmingham's third.
We did have another chance in stoppage time, Ings blazing over from just outside the six yard box. By then there were very few Burnley fans left in the ground and shortly after that referee Jock Waugh blew to confirm our seventh home defeat of the season.
For fifteen minutes, following the introduction of Stanislas, we pressed Birmingham. Stanislas attacked them, got us moving the ball quicker and was positive in his running at them.
Sadly, for the rest of the game it was hardly entertaining stuff. It was slow and laboured. We created precious little, had no width, and for the first hour of the game probably created only one chance, the Edgar header.
Not for the first time this season we've lifted hopes with a good away win and then disappointed with a very poor home performance.
The teams were;
Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney (Junior Stanislas 59), Marvin Bartley, Chris McCann, Josh McQuoid (Cameron Howieson 84), Charlie Austin, Danny Ings. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Steven Hewitt, Wes Fletcher.
Yellow Cards: Michael Duff, Ross Wallace.
Birmingham: Boaz Myhill, David Murphy, Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell, Peter Ramage, Chris Burke, Guirane N'Daw, Jordon Mutch, Wade Elliott, Marlon King (Erik Huseklepp 90+1), Nikola Zigic (Andros Townsend 76). Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Nathan Redmond, Morgaro Gomis.
Yellow Cards: Nikola Zigic, Jordon Mutch.
Referee: Jock Waugh (South Yorkshire).