Russell Martin Insists His Side Are Still Learning . . . And Tough Tests Like Birmingham Will Only Make Them Stronger

A deflated Russell Martin and Matt Grimes following a 2-2 draw at St Andrews. Pic: Getty Images.

Russell Martin Insists His Side Are Still Learning . . . And Tough Tests Like Birmingham Will Only Make Them Stronger

Russell Martin understands the frustration and criticism levelled at his team, but he believes that his side are at the beginning of their journey and will learn from these tough tests.

Troy Deeney rescued a deserved point for Birmingham after Matt Grimes looked like inspiring Swansea to a comeback win in a 2-2 draw at St Andrew’s.

Deeney equalised in the 89th minute of the Sky Bet Championship clash, after Scott Hogan put Blues ahead in the first half.

Hogan’s ninth goal of the season was cancelled out by Olivier Ntcham before Grimes – who started the move for the equaliser – put Swansea ahead on the stroke of half-time with his first goal in 85 league games.

However, Deeney’s leveller meant Blues stretched their unbeaten home run to six games.

Swansea’s Russell Martin: “It hurts, it’s frustrating and it’s disappointing. We will get criticised because that’s something that has hit us this season but the players were brilliant for so long. It was always going to be a tough game as they’re in a great run of form and they’re a really athletic team.

“We started poorly, even though we had prepared the guys for it. We then scored two goals of brilliant quality – it was an incredible delivery for Matt Grimes’ goal from Joel Latibeaudiere’s cross. Our players are really early in their journey.”

Birmingham’s John Eustace: “Troy has been excellent since day one. He is Mr Birmingham City and will go above and beyond for this club. He’s fantastic with the young players and the older players and with the community. We are very lucky to have Troy.”

“I’m delighted with the effort of the group. I thought we deserved a point with the character the boys showed. I thought we started the second half much better and deserved a point. You have to keep going. Did I think we’d run out of time? No. Swansea are an excellent, top team and for 25 minutes we were really good, then we lost our discipline with our shape for 10 minutes. If you do that against them, they will punish you. It was really bad defending from us for their first goal, although it was a fantastic strike.”

Birmingham, with two defeats in 12 matches, started confidently as they tried to emulate their flying start against QPR last week.

Their promising start paid off as they took a 12th-minute lead, albeit capitalising on some awful defending from Swansea.

Tahith Chong’s backheel on the left teed up Emmanuel Longelo to cross and the unmarked Hogan glanced home with goalkeeper Steven Benda flapping at thin air. It was Hogan’s fourth goal in six games.

Blues pushed for a second goal and the lively Chong’s shot was deflected inches wide after Hogan’s blocked effort bounced into his path.

A cross from Chong caused more panic in Swansea’s box and Ben Cabango sliced the ball over his own bar as the lurking Hogan looked to pounce.

It had been all one-way traffic but that changed in the 30th minute when Swansea equalised.

A magnificent diagonal ball from captain Grimes put Ryan Manning free on the left and his acutely-angled drive smacked off the post.

The ball rebounded to Ntcham, who curled a beautiful shot into the far bottom corner to leave goalkeeper John Ruddy helpless. It was the first goal the home side had conceded at St. Andrew’s in 226 minutes.

The action switched to the other end and Benda had to make a crucial diving stop to prevent an own goal after Chong’s cross was turned goalwards by Luke Cundle.

Swansea took a shock lead in the second minute of time added on at the end of the first half.

This time it was Birmingham’s turn to defend sloppily as Joel Latibeaudiere’s cross was swept home first time by the unmarked Grimes from 12 yards – his first goal since January 30, 2021.

Birmingham spent much of the second period in Swansea’s half but it took until late on for them to get back on level terms, Deeney belting the ball home from close range after Dion Sanderson headed on Juninho Bacuna’s corner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.