Tuesday night's reports
Colin Tattum's Big Match verdict
FOUR goals, five-star Blues.
Another St Andrew’s outing, another super showing.
They are getting the hang of this playing at home lark, eh?
A third straight win on home soil, 11 goals. Long may it continue.
David Murphy set Blues on their way with two first-half strikes, after Jesse Lingard missed a penalty.
What moments for Murphy, who has had a hellish time during a 10-month injury absence.
After Blues took their foot off the pedal a little after the interval, they got back on it through Tom Adeyemi and then Lingard added a fourth right at the end.
Blues have been playing well at St Andrew’s (barring one performance, Ipswich Town). And now the goals are coming.
It’s just a shame so few are there to see them, just 13,133 last night.
Peter Pannu was present, having returned from the Far East.
And he must have been delighted at what he saw from an executive box in the Kop.
It probably won’t put a few more Hong Kong dollars onto the price of the club, mind.
And although prime suitor Gianni Paladini was again there, there is not yet any shift in the likelihood of a takeover/investment.
That saga continues to rumble on unsatisfactorily, unlike Blues at St Andrew’s presently.
The margin of victory could easily have been greater for Blues against in-form Millwall, who were out-played and out-battled.
Blues overcame the mishap of a 10th minute penalty miss by Lingard. Millwall will have claimed justification as Alan Dunne’s trip on Lingard looked to be a yard or so outside the area, and Lingard’s momentum carried him inside it.
Lingard, off a fairly straight run up, sidefooted low to the right and David Forde parried and then smothered the ball as it threatened to pop back out.
The miss threw Blues off their stride, but only for a little while.
They were energetic, exploited the space between the lines very well and put Millwall under a lot of pressure.
Clark’s 4-2-3-1 formation, specially deployed to exploit chinks in the Millwall armour, worked perfectly.
Clark was keen to field ‘clever’ attacking players at the top end and let them do their stuff - and they did just that.
Behind, Adeyemi was voracious and Callum Reilly brimming with intent and combative.
Millwall really had no answer to Blues brain and brawn.
That Blues pressure paid off when Andrew Shinnie dribbled his way diagonally across to the right of the penalty area and curved over an enticing cross to the far post. Two Millwall players didn’t get good enough touches on it to clear and Murphy made them pay.
He killed the ball with his first touch and his second was a thumping drive back across into the bottom corner (19 minutes).
Millwall, who had won their previous three games in the league, didn’t seem with it.
When a good opening soon came their way after Liam Trotter latched onto possession coughed up in the middle, he played Steve Morison down the inside right channel and he was through . . . until he slipped over.
That kind of summed up Millwall and Blues were brighter, more thrusting, better technically, all told.
Forde then made a fine low save from a Chris Burke attempt that was heading into the bottom corner.
And in the 34th minute, after Trotter up-ended Shinnie to the right of the box, Murphy scored with a peach of a free-kick.
Murphy didn’t curl the ball over the defensive wall, instead he whacked it to the goalkeeper’s side and into the top corner. It had too much pace on it, to go with the accuracy.
Two minutes before the break Reilly won the ball back in a crunching tackle and went so close with a 25-yarder that arched just round the post and slammed into the advertising hoardings.
Blues were comfortable and it showed after the break. They were too sloppy for Clark’s liking, for too long.
But even though Millwall had more of the ball, Blues doggedly ensured that they didn’t hurt them with it.
Blues did need another goal, however, to calm any concerns.
And it came in the 76th minute, with Shinnie - enjoying his best Blues performance - again involved.
He veered inside and created a couple of yards space in which to let fly at goal.
His shot was well struck and Forde couldn’t hold it.
Adeyemi was quickly onto the loose ball and executed a deft, dinked finish over the flailing Forde into the roof of the net. Exquisite.
Murphy went for his hat-trick from another free-kick, but this time Forde batted it away.
He was then substituted, to a deserved standing ovation.
In the last minute, Lingard made amends for his spot-kick fluff by surging onto Burke’s lovely cross to plant a firm downward header home.
Burke was in one of his ‘tear ‘em apart’ moods and Villa-supporting full-back Scott Malone had a sobering evening.
In stoppage-time, Clark blooded another Academy teenager, Demarai Gray.
The 17-year-old didn’t have any real quality time to get on the ball and show his wares. But you can bet his appetite for more has been whetted.
And so has Blues’ for the next St Andrew’s fixture to come round - on Saturday against Bolton Wanderers.