Blues stage deserved comeback
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: 30/04/05 4:55pm
Birmingham City staged a well-fought second half comeback to deservedly run-out 2-1 winners over Blackburn Rovers.
Steve Bruce's side went down to an early Jon Stead strike although persevered and took the three points they deserved with strikes from Robbie Blake and Emile Heskey.
The Blues looked the more likely to score throughout the game, and Walter Pandiani and Jermaine Pennant in particular contributed well to the Blues attack that was more fluent and creative than their opponents.
Whilst the result may not have had major significance for The Premiership with both sides languishing in mid-table obscurity, Bruce will no doubt be pleased to put one over his old Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes.
Birmingham were making the early in-roads, as Heskey leapt with Ryan Nelsen to head at Brad Friedel before Pennant saw his dipping free kick deflected over after Brett Emerton had impeded Damien Johnson.
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Birmingham were unlucky not to take an early lead as Pandiani chested down Pennant's corner at the far post and volleyed strongly across goal - only to see his drive rebound off the inside of the post and fly to safety.
The loan duo looked to be working well in tandem and the Argentine went close again as he met Pennant's cross with a header directed straight at Friedel.
However it was Blackburn who broke the deadlock against the run of play, as Stead took full advantage of Paul Dickov's absence to power in a close range header on 13 minutes.
The young striker created the chance well as he held the ball up under pressure from Matthew Upson before playing it wide to Emerton, and the Australian skipped past a lacklustre Stan Lazaridis challenge to find Stead unmarked in the centre of the box.
However Bruce's side were determined to restore parity, and were denied a good penalty shout as Lucas Neill appeared to handball whilst under pressure from Pandiani.
Friedel then had to be alert as Pennant's dangerous whipped cross was deflected by both Nelsen and Andy Todd as the American keeper dived low to his right to prevent an own goal.
Blackburn, lacking Robbie Savage due to a contractual condition of his move between the sides, continued to endure further pressure before the break as Aaron Mokoena had to be alert to clear over the bar with Heskey waiting - as Pennant's range of crossing was continually asking questions of the Rovers back-line.
The burly former Liverpool man also flashed one wide of the right hand post before Blackburn reminded the home side of their presence in the game as Stead beat the offside trap, finding himself through on goal, but skewed his effort high and wide.
Pennant and Pandiani again worked to good effect after the break, as the winger flighted in a deep ball that found the on-loan Deportivo man at the back-post - although there was no-one to knock in his cross.
The Blues continued to dominate, and got their just rewards on 61 minutes as Steve Bruce produced a tactical masterstroke in bringing on Blake for Mehdi Nafti.
The former Burnley man has struggled at Birmingham so far but only needed two touches to draw his side level, as Pandiani slipped the ball into the area and Blake showed composure to slot in past Friedel.
The goal inspired Birmingham to hit a higher gear and they attacked Friedel's goal with a renewed impetus in a bid to grab the full three points.
Pandiani could have scored twice as the American keeper made a mess of his curling free kick - before he then miscued a free header from a Lazaridis cross when well-placed.
City continued to drive forward and the hard-working Heskey edged them in front with a superb finish, as he brought down Todd's attempted interception and let the ball bounce before unleashing a tremendous drive that beat Friedel at his right hand post.
Whilst Blackburn bustled in what remained of the game, as Tugay lanched a hopeful long range curling effort, they continued to fail to find inspiration and succumbed to a superior Birmingham outfit.
Click here for Birmingham v Blackburn player ratings.
|Birmingham City||Team Name||Blackburn Rovers|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||1|
|4||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||4|
|15||Total Fouls Conceded||16|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||34||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||33|