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St Andrew's (ATT 24,019) 9th August 2008 - Kick off 12:45 Ref: K Stroud

Birm'ham Birmingham City vs Sheffield United Sheff Utd

Blues late show blunts Blades

Phillips scores injury-time winner for title favourites

By Chris Burton.   Last Updated: 09/08/08 3:17pm

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Phillips: Debut goal

Phillips: Debut goal

Birmingham are up and running in the Championship after a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United.

Blues boss Alex McLeish left new signing Kevin Phillips out of his starting XI, but the veteran front-man stepped off the bench to grab an injury-time winner.

It was apparent from the off why the bookies have installed McLeish's men as favourites for the title this season as they came flying out of the blocks.

They were soon camped inside the Blades' half and James McFadden saw an early penalty shout waved away while Marcus Bent looked lively on his debut.

However, Kevin Blackwell's men slowly began to find their feet and tested Maik Taylor's reactions through a crisp Gary Speed volley on 12 minutes.

Billy Sharp was also proving to be more than a handful for the Blues defence, although he was well marshalled by Liam Ridgewell.

Flashes of brilliance from Scotland international McFadden continued to make Birmingham favourites to break the deadlock, but the opening period ended goalless.

Brighter

The hosts were the brighter once again after the break, with Gary McSheffrey seeing a well-struck effort blocked by Matthew Kilgallon.

The Blades centre-half was again called upon just before the hour-mark as he got a crucial toe to McSheffrey's clever cross to prevent Bent sneaking in at the back post.

McFadden then lifted a good chance over the bar as the Blues' frustration began to build, with United providing little in terms of attacking threat at the opposite end.

With the game seemingly set to end in stalemate Phillips then showed all his class as he held off the attentions of Chris Morgan inside the box before twisting to send a low drive past a helpless Paddy Kenny.

Both sides are expected to be among the promotion candidates come May, but it is Birmingham who have made the perfect start.

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Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Derby County 13 26
2 Watford 13 25
3 Middlesbrough 13 23
4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 23
5 Norwich City 13 22
6 Nottingham Forest 13 22
7 Charlton Athletic 13 22
8 Bournemouth 13 21
9 Ipswich Town 13 20
10 Cardiff City 13 19
11 Blackburn Rovers 13 19
12 Brentford 13 19
13 Sheffield Wednesday 13 18
14 Rotherham United 13 16
15 Leeds United 13 16
16 Huddersfield Town 13 16
17 Reading 13 15
18 Millwall 13 14
19 Wigan Athletic 13 12
20 Brighton and Hove Albion 13 12
21 Birmingham City 13 11
22 Fulham 13 11
23 Bolton Wanderers 13 8
24 Blackpool 13 6

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