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IT WAS JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS; There's no need for panic as Blues see unbeaten run end.

Byline: Colin Tattum

BIT of a problem for Chris Hughton.

And he's not faced it ever before. No, not the fact that Blues lost. Moreover, just what to say after a first home defeat as a manager in the Championship.

At Newcastle United, Hughton never had that feeling. No losses at St James' Park on their way to the title.

At Blues, it's taken 17 games. Some going.

So he could be excused if he was a little stuck for words after Nottingham Forest's 2-1 success. SHORT All facetiousness aside, Hughton was always well aware it couldn't last, his record and Blues. TWEET@scottbchapman Birmingham life, not runs, Premier and cups #Birmingham Forever And he was not about to go overboard and search for the panic button - rightly so. Quite simply, too many Blues players were well below their recent standards and Forest's performed above theirs.

There should be no cerebral or deeper analysis about changing a winning team, new signings upsetting the equilibrium etc.

Blues had a bad afternoon and the evidence of the season so far, on the whole, shows that that is an unusual occurrence.

Sixteen St Andrew's games without defeat, 15 in all fixtures, tells you that too.

Hughton said the important thing was just how Blues bounced back after this upset. And only the most morbid of pessimists would believe they won't, or can't.

But for a bit of better luck, they could well have salvaged a draw right at the death.

In the third minute of stoppage time, with the Forest penalty area under a siege that wouldn't have looked out of place at Warwick Castle in Medieval times, Keith Fahey's measured shot hit the crossbar.

Curtis Davies, sent forward as an auxiliary striker for the final throes, ushered the rebound wide when it looked as if he would score.

& Then 60 seconds later somehow Jordon Mutch got too fine a touch at the near post on Chris Burke's cross and the ball went past the opposite upright instead of into the back of the net.

City are for unbeaten League #bcfc Previously this season Blues have come good late on so often. Not this time.

Forest defended the lead like their lives depended on it. They were of no mind to crumble, despite the pandemonium and pressure.

That Blues didn't really exert themselves with such urgency and test Forest until so late was a factor in the defeat.

The first half was one of their most ineffective, if not the most ineffective, of the campaign to date.

Where Forest were bright, mobile and aggressive, Blues were limp, dull and untidy.

I can't remember when they last misplaced so many simple passes. Mutch, so assured and full of swag-ger at Barnsley, was culpable. Burke, another who starred at Oakwell, was eclipsed by the vibrant Garath McCleary until he went up several notches after the break.

David Murphy, on his 100th Blues appearance, wasn't himself throughout and Forest's 29thminute opener, plundered sharply at the near post by Dexter Blackstock from McCleary's low cross, came after Steven Caldwell went at full stretch to cut out a lob forward and failed; again, not in character.

There was the rare sight of Blues out from the dressing rooms early, obviously chastised, for the second half.

Blues equalised when Marlon King chased after a long Mutch diagonal ball, bumped George Elokobi out of possession at the byline and laid it back to Burke, who skirted inside Andy Reid's challenge and cracked a beauty past keeper Lee Camp with his left foot.

That should have galvanised Blues to go on, but they didn't.

A raking cross from McCleary wasn't dealt with like usual and Blackstock's velvet touch on the ball brought it out of a crowd of bodies, he then turned and smacked it in after it sat up nicely.

It was an inspirational piece of play and proved to be decisive.

Hughton opted to start Nikola Zigic, his first outing since the four-goal demolition of Leeds United after recovery from injury.

Forest got up close and personal with Zigic, they were really heavy handed. And Zigic was ineffective, although the service to the front and creativity was too often lacking.

Of the two new loanees, Andros Townsend started. Clearly sure of touch and able to get away from opponents in tight situations, and in the open due to his pace, he carries a danger.

To throw him in from the off was not a mistake. The 'left-side problem' was one that has nagged away. Townsend is a genuine leftsider who has the potential to change a game.

Erik Huseklepp came on as a substitute for Zigic in the 68th minute. Like Townsend, he signposted good things to come. There's a shade of the McFadden and Bendtner in Huseklepp, who likes to drop deeper into the kind of areas that makes defenders wonder whether to twist or stick.

He's lively and had a decent, active impact as Blues stepped it up all told towards the end in search of a second equaliser.

Forest boss Steve Cotterill, who signed Huseklepp for Portsmouth, said that if Blues got him on the ball, he would 'do very well'.

And Cotterill also put some perspective on Blues' defeat.

He said that 'Birmingham have done fantastic, haven't they? If you had offered us the position they are in and losing 2-1 at home, I'd have taken that'.

This was the first knock-back for Blues at St Andrew's in the league. And we're almost into March.

For what they have done so far this season it's fair to cut the players some slack for this stuttering afternoon. A year on from the landmark Carling Cup win, all and sundry have not done too bad in picking up the pieces so far.

Nikola Zigic is squeezed out by Forest duo George Elokobi and Joel Lynch.

CAPTION(S):

Blues' new boy Erik Huseklepp tries to get an attack moving at St Andrew's.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 27, 2012
Words:994
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