Throughout the second half of the 2018/19 season, millwallfc.co.uk will be analysing The Lions' opponents by taking a look back at their campaign so far. As Neil Harris' side prepare to take on Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium, we take a look at The Blues’ recent results.
Birmingham City began 2018/19 looking to improve on last season’s 19th-place finish in the Sky Bet Championship. Garry Monk continued at the helm, with recruitment including the signings of Kristian Pedersen, Lee Camp and Connor Mahoney, as well as Craig Gardner from rivals Aston Villa. Out went former Millwall man Diego Fabbrini, alongside a number of loan players. A pre-season training camp saw a draw and a defeat for The Blues, before wins over Doncaster Rovers and Cheltenham Town. A loss to Las Palmas and a draw with Brighton & Hove Albion rounded off the summer schedule.
The Championship season got underway for Birmingham against Norwich City at St. Andrew’s. A 2-2 draw kicked off the campaign, before a slender 1-0 loss in their first away trip at Middlesbrough. The Blues suffered an early exit from the Carabao Cup, beaten 2-0 at Reading in the First Round. A goalless draw at home to newly-relegated Swansea City was followed by a fourth game without scoring, a 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers. With a third point of the season coming in a 2-2 share of the spoils against Nottingham Forest, The Blues finished the opening month in 20th.
With three draws from five games, Birmingham’s target for September was to turn the points into three points. However – whilst the side remained unbeaten throughout the month – four draws and just one win saw the side in 16th despite just two League defeats. Goalless games with QPR and Sheffield United came either side of a 1-1 scoreline with West Bromwich Albion, going toe-to-toe with some of the Championship’s top outfits. They would go one better after their Bramall Lane stalemate, taking their first victory of the season away at Leeds United, by two goals to one. A 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town ended September.
October was a month in which Monk’s fortunes changed for the better at St. Andrew’s. After an eighth draw in 11 games away at Brentford, Birmingham took full advantage of three home League games to take maximum points for the rest of the month, along with success on the road. With a Lucas Jutkiewicz hat-trick securing three points against Rotherham United, Birmingham then snatched a late winner to overcome Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium. Back-to-back home victories over Reading (2-1) and Sheffield Wednesday (3-1) signed off October having risen a remarkable seven places to ninth.
Despite just four Championship fixtures in November, Birmingham’s games featured 18 goals, for and against. Suffering their first defeat since August away at Derby County (3-1), a Che Adams hat-trick earned a 3-3 home draw with Hull City. The first local Second City derby took place following the international break, with The Blues beaten 4-2 by Aston Villa in a pulsating clash at Villa Park. November ended with Birmingham’s visit to The Den to take on Millwall, with Monk’s men running out 2-0 winners and captain Sean Morrison among the goals. The side finished the month in 10th.
A busy December got underway with some fancying Birmingham as outside Play-Off contenders. The team enjoyed the perfect start, with a 3-0 win over Preston North End at St. Andrew’s. A 1-0 defeat at Bristol City dented their hopes, before a 2-2 draw at Blackburn Rovers. The run-in to the New Year saw Birmingham’s form remain at an impressive level, turning over Wigan Athletic 3-0 on the road before a 2-0 home win over Stoke. A home stalemate with Brentford rounded off 2018 with The Blues in seventh.
The New Year began for Birmingham with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, before the Emirates FA Cup began for clubs from the top two divisions at the Third Round stage. Drawn away to West Ham United, The Blues went down 2-0 in East London with sole focus now on the League. Successive Championship defeats then ensued, firstly to Middlesbrough (2-1) and then to Norwich (3-1). Coming almighty close to taking three points home from Swansea with 10 men, a late leveller from the hosts meant Monk had to settle for a 3-3 draw with his former side. With Birmingham 12th – albeit amongst a tight cluster of teams in the higher-mid-table region – the side prepared for February by bringing in midfielder Kerim Mrabti.
Birmingham started February strongly, securing a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest and a thrilling 4-3 victory at QPR to rise to eighth – the latter courtesy of another Adams treble. Suffering a bump in the road with a shock 1-0 home defeat to Bolton, Adams’ ninth and tenth goals in eight games managed a 2-2 draw with Blackburn. Finishing the month with a solid 2-1 win at Bristol City, The Blues sat eighth after 34 games. Moving into March, Monk’s side have since dropped to 11th, following a 2-0 defeat to Hull and second derby woes of the season – last weekend’s 1-0 reverse at home to Aston Villa.