Blues late show blunts Blades
Phillips scores injury-time winner for title favourites
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: August 9, 2008 3:17pm
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.
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.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 9th Aug
Birmingham1 - 0Sheff Utd
Blackpool0 - 1Bristol C
QPR2 - 1Barnsley
Ipswich1 - 2Preston
Plymouth2 - 2Wolves
Cardiff2 - 1Southampton
C Palace0 - 0Watford
Derby0 - 1Doncaster
Sheff Wed4 - 1Burnley
Coventry2 - 0Norwich
Charlton2 - 0Swansea
Sky Bet Championship
|2||Queens Park Rangers||19||39|
|10||Brighton and Hove Albion||19||28|