Dann dents Blues challenge
First-minute goal harms Birmingham's title plans
Last Updated: 21/02/09 5:44pm
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.
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.
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.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 21st Feb
N Forest1 - 3Derby
Barnsley0 - 0Charlton
Plymouth2 - 2Sheff Utd
Blackpool0 - 2Watford
Reading0 - 2Bristol C
So'ton3 - 1Preston
Norwich1 - 1Burnley
Sheff Wed2 - 0C Palace
Coventry1 - 0Birm'ham
Swansea3 - 1Doncaster
QPR1 - 3Ipswich
Sky Bet Championship
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