Birmiingham City gave Aitor Karanka his first win in his opening Championship match – but Brentford were not happy
Birmingham City had a set-piece, their goal-frame and a resolute defensive effort to thank for their opening day victory over Brentford.
Jeremie Bela grabbed the only goal of the game, from a corner eight minutes before half time, which gave Blues something to cling to.
And cling they did – bravely – as Brentford hit the post and the bar and Bryan Mbuemo could have ended the match with a hat-trick.
However, the points are Bluesâ and thatâs all that matters – especially after Aitor Karanka made the bold decision of starting with Zach Jeacock in goal, with new signing Neil Etheridge on the bench.
A brave move by Karanka to call up the 19-year-old and Blues protected him pretty well in the first half when he had one rising Toney shot to save. Needed his goal-frame but made some good saves too.
Allowed Canos to escape him in the 13th minute which caused mayhem in the box. Stuck to his task in very difficult circumstances. One excellent cross found Dean early in the second half.
Up against Ivan Toney and tried to give the Â£10m an uncomfortable afternoon. Absolutely marmelised Norgaard with a strong header in his own area. Needed to be strong in the second half – and was.
Could only get better after slicing his first pass into touch. Strong run set up early Bela chance. Stood tall alongside Dean and a constant voice of encouragement throughout.
Found himself over-run at times in the first half as Brentford worked overloads.Â They also targeted him in the second and he produced some solid defensive work, apart from on header across his own box.
Thomas Frank insists Brentford did more than enough to win their season opener against Birmingham City.
The Bees were undone by a 37th minute goal from Jeremie Bela but piled on the pressure in the second half.
Josh Dasilva hit the post in the opening period, Sergi Canos struck the bar in the second with an overhead kick and Blues needed their debutant goalkeeper Zach Jeacock to make a good double save from Emiliano Marcondes.
All of which left Frank with a similar feeling to last term which begun with a 1-0 home defeat by Blues.
âCongratulations to Birmingham they made it difficult for us throughout the game, they started well for 25 minutes, then we got on top of the game,â Frank said.
âI need to look back on the set piece, I havenât watched the details yet. We still created chances in the second half when they banked in.
« We were patient enough, moved the ball quick enough, produced enough crosses, created set-pieces and we definitely should have got the equaliser,
âIf you look at the chances, all the Expected Goals and all that crap, we one hundred per cent deserved to win the game. It think it was 7-2 in chances. If you that consistently you win a lot more than you lose.
âIf you look at the clear facts of this game we were more than on it and we did more than enough to win the game.â
Aitor Karanka insists he had no fears about throwing teenage goalkeeper Zach Jeacock into the white heat of a Championship battle.
Birmingham City won their first league game under their new head coach and did so with 19-year-old Jeacock surprisingly handed his debut in goal.
What made it even more surprising was that Blues signed former Premier League stopper Neil Etheridge on Thursday but the 30-year-old began his St Andrews career on the bench.
Karanka revealed he decided on Tuesday he would play Jeacock after Andres Prieto went down with a calf injury.
âFor me the keeper should be a good goalkeeper but for me the most important thing for our âkeeper is he should transmit his calm,â Karanka said.
âI met Zach one month ago and if he has something it is that he is calm and confident. Even when he is nervous you donât feel he is nervous.
âNeil arrived yesterday, didnât train with the team, he didnât know his team-mates â for sure he will play but I did not have any doubts that Zach was going to be our âkeeper.
âOn Tuesday or Wednesday I had told the goalkeeper coach I didnât care who was coming or not because he knew that Zach was going to play.
âHe has been on the pitch today like he is on the training ground. He has a very bright future in front of him and now we need to think about the situation because we will decide the best for the kid.â
Karanka has previously spoken about sending Jeacock out on loan to gain experience – but he admits the England Under 19 youngster has given him something to think about.
âIn Spain we say âDonât allow the tree to hide the forestâ, I think he can be a very good goalkeeper but we canât make the mistake to think he is ready. I think he needs to improve.
âWe are well covered in goal with Neil and Andres, letâs see what is happening this week â for sure the decision we take as the club will be the best for the future of the person and the future of the player.
âI canât tell you today, itâs difficult. I donât want to tell you after an amazing performance he is going to go out on loan and the poor kid is go home and see that.
âI donât know yet. We will decide as a club what is better, with the goalkeeper coach and with everybody if we can keep him to fight for the position. I need to think with the club and take the best decision with everybody.â
Dave Foster: âSome performance that! Rode our luck at times but a lot of positives to build on. Friend looks like a class signing with his leadership and positioning. Team already look a lot more organised and hopefully can only get better more they play together and gel.â
Mr Sharpe: âSolid win today. Like the new style. Hard to breakdown quick on the break. Friend is a massive signing and Clayton in the middle. Looking forward to the season.â
Christian Brown: âFantastic result against a team that will be there abouts at the end of the season.â
@ToweringZigic: I love it when Boro fans keep telling us weâll hate Karanka because he plays boring football. They really donât know how bad weâve had it for the past few years! He wins games, simple as that
@WeAreBlooz: When you sit back and analyse it all, you actually realise how clever those signings were by Karanka. I wouldnât change 1 of them after todayâs performance, seeing what they bring to this squad. Unreal business this summer.
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