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Ricoh Arena (ATT 22,637) 21st February 2009 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: C Oliver

Coventry Coventry City vs Birmingham City Birm'ham

Dann dents Blues challenge

First-minute goal harms Birmingham's title plans

Last Updated: 21/02/09 5:44pm

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Dann: Upset the plans of McLeish

Dann: Upset the plans of McLeish

Coventry dented Birmingham's title challenge with a 1-0 victory over their Midlands rivals at the Ricoh Arena.

Scott Dann struck in the first minute of the Midlands derby to ensure that Chris Coleman celebrated a year in charge of the Sky Blues in style.

Coventry raced out of the blocks and Clinton Morrison forced Maik Taylor to save with his feet with little more than 30 seconds on the clock after good link-up play with strike partner Leon Best.

From Daniel Fox's resulting corner, Dann was left unmarked inside the six-yard box to smash the ball home.

It was a thoroughly deserved win for the hosts, who are now unbeaten in four matches in all competitions and look to be on track to achieve Coleman's target of a top-half finish in the league this season.

Birmingham - who were hoping to close the gap on leaders Wolves - were well below-par, particularly in the first half when their passing was sloppy and lacked urgency.

A deficiency in goals - the Blues have scored just nine in their last 12 Championship outings - must be a cause for concern for boss Alex McLeish and his side never really looked capable of mounting a recovery after falling behind early-on.

Consolation

The only consolation for Birmingham is that they remain in second place after Reading slipped to a 2-0 home defeat to Bristol City.

Coleman recalled Leon McKenzie as on-loan Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson dropped down to the bench.

McLeish's switch was an enforced one after top-scorer Kevin Phillips suffered a torn hamstring against Nottingham Forest last weekend, so Cameron Jerome came into the side.

Morrison was making a nuisance of himself against his former club and headed narrowly over the crossbar after three minutes before seeing a goal-bound effort blocked by Liam Ridgewell 10 minutes later.

A neat Birmingham move was not given the finish it deserved by Sebastian Larsson when he shot tamely at Keiren Westwood after 15 minutes.

Jerome dragged a shot wide and Marcus Bent missed the target with a header either side of the half-hour mark in the only other efforts of note in the first half.

The Blues lost midfielder Lee Carsley to injury before the break. He was replaced by Hameur Bouazza.

Impact

Eight minutes into the second half it was Coventry's turn to make an enforced change as Henderson came on for the injured McKenzie.

And the Sunderland youngster almost made a telling impact midway through the second half with a superb left-foot shot from 25-yards that was brilliantly saved away by Taylor.

Birmingham improved marginally after the restart and Jerome, Keith Fahey and Lee Bowyer all had efforts on goal, but none of them forced Westwood into a save.

At the other end, Taylor kept his side in the game when he kept out Best's low shot with his feet.

Scott Sinclair thought he had rescued a late point for Birmingham when he smashed the ball home from close range but the on-loan Chelsea midfielder's celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.

Best missed a late chance to seal it as Coventry suffered through five minutes of injury time, but they held on for the win.

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Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bournemouth 23 45
2 Ipswich Town 23 44
3 Derby County 23 42
4 Middlesbrough 23 42
5 Brentford 23 40
6 Watford 23 38
7 Norwich City 23 37
8 Blackburn Rovers 23 34
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 34
10 Nottingham Forest 23 31
11 Cardiff City 23 31
12 Charlton Athletic 23 31
13 Sheffield Wednesday 23 31
14 Bolton Wanderers 23 29
15 Fulham 23 28
16 Birmingham City 23 28
17 Reading 23 26
18 Rotherham United 23 25
19 Huddersfield Town 23 25
20 Leeds United 23 24
21 Millwall 23 23
22 Wigan Athletic 23 20
23 Brighton and Hove Albion 23 20
24 Blackpool 23 13

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