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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 16 Mar 13 at 17:01 PM

Middlesbrough 0 Blues 1

Nikola Zigic’s 81st minute goal at the Riverside Stadium helped move Blues up to 11th in the npower Championship.

A goalless draw looked the most likely outcome as the game wore on, however, Shane Ferguson and Zigic, with a little assistance from Middlesbrough defender George Friend, combined to secure all three points for the visitors.



Not only was it Birmingham’s 12th league win of the season, but it was also their first victory at Middlesbrough since 1980.

On Teesside, Lee Clark handed Nathan Redmond, Ravel Morrison and Wes Thomas places in his starting line-up after their impressive substitute displays against Derby County last Saturday.

And Blues had to make another change straight from the kick-off – this time enforced – as Faris Haroun hacked down Jonathan Spector, leaving Clark with no option but to replace the crocked American with Keith Fahey.

But this didn’t deter the visitors, however, as Thomas was presented with two chances in the space of 60 seconds.

Initially, the on-loan Bournemouth marksman did well from a tight angle to arrow a shot that rippled the side netting. Moments later, though, Andre Bikey’s header failed to find Boro ‘keeper Jason Steele, but Thomas couldn’t quite prod the ball past the 22-year-old.

The remainder of the first-half saw the defences largely on top, although both sides still went close to breaking the deadlock.

On 34 minutes Fahey was a couple of feet away from directing a left-footed strike into the bottom corner, then Scott McDonald was ruled offside after tapping home Friend’s effort on the rebound.

Eight minutes later and McDonald struck Lukas Jutkiewcz’s flick on way over the bar. Clark’s men then replied via a Morrison 20-yard attempt that was palmed away for a corner by Steele.

After the break the contest became wide open, with Tony Mowbray’s charges piling the pressure on through a series of openings.

In the 50th minute Friend headed Grant Leadbitter’s corner onto the roof of the net, but Middlesbrough’s best chance shortly followed.

Curtis Davies could only flick on a long ball into McDonald’s path, although the former Celtic forward’s goalbound attempt was blocked by Butland’s legs. But the danger wasn’t over as an alert Ferguson hooked Friend’s header, from the resulting corner, off the line.

Birmingham managed to stem the tide and if wasn’t for Steele’s outstretched hand, then Morrison’s ball across the face of goal would have been tapped-in.

Six minutes later and Redmond cut in from the right, unleashing a ferocious strike that was inches away from curling into the bottom corner.

The Teesside outfit quickly replied 18 minutes from time, as Adam Reach’s cross-come-shot was tipped round the post by Butland.

But Blues were not to be denied a plucky three points in the North East.

The 21-year-old Ferguson surged into the box and played Zigic in, who in front of 507 Blues fans, bundled the ball home, despite Friend’s best efforts to prevent a staggering 18th defeat of the campaign for Boro.

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