Yeovil Town marked their first ever visit to St. Andrew’s with a battling victory over Blues with James Hayter’s first-half brace doing the damage.
Lee Clark’s side have not won at home in the league since early October and the wait continues after the Somerset strugglers claimed maximum points courtesy of Hayter’s early double strike. Blues created plenty of chances to reduce the deficit but were continually denied by the heroics of Glovers keeper Marek Stech.
Clark handed a debut to new boy Brian Howard and also gave 17-year-old Reece Brown his first league start.
Hayden Mullins had to be alert inside the opening few seconds to block Hayter’s shot on the edge of the six-yard box as Yeovil gave an early warning of their attacking intent. At the opposite end, Blues’ first notable chance came when Nikola Zigic put pressure on Byron Webster deep inside the Yeovil area. The big Serbian did well to dispossess the centre-back but struggled to keep his footing whilst attempting to get a shot away and his weak effort was turned around the post by Stech.
St. Andrew’s was left stunned as the visitors went ahead on 12 minutes. Mullins’ attempted back-pass lacked sufficient power to reach Darren Randolph and Hayter sneaked in to lift the ball over the stranded home keeper. Yeovil could have added to their lead soon afterwards with Blues indebted to Randolph for a great double save. On-loan Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ralls unleashed a fizzing 25-yard drive that the Blues number one did well to parry away. Kieffer Moore was first to the rebound but Randolph was up smartly to deny the Yeovil front man with his legs.
When Blues did threaten they found the Yeovil defence in determined mood, epitomised by a brave block from Joe Edwards to prevent Chris Burke’s volley from hitting the target. The Glovers broke quickly on 19 minutes and doubled their advantage. Hayter flung himelf at Ralls’ low cross and directed his header beyond Randolph into the bottom far corner.
Blues almost conjured an immediate response as Howard’s flick-on presented Novak with headed chance that struck the visitors’ bar. Clark’s side proceeded to pepper the Yeovil goal with shots but Stech was in imperious form. The former West Ham keeper beat away Brown’s fierce drive and turned aside Olly Lee’s 20-yard volley. Novak’s 25-yard effort was also comfortably saved low down by the Yeovil custodian as the former non-leaguers clung to their two-goal buffer.
Things could have got even worse for Blues on the stroke of half-time. Moore broke through on goal but was denied a shooting chance by a last-ditch tackle from Paul Robinson. Yeovil felt that the Blues skipper had not made contact with the ball but their appeals fell on deaf ears. The attack continued as the ball broke to Grant and his shot was well saved at the second attempt by Randolph.
Blues enjoyed plenty of possession during the opening stages of the second-half but struggled to break down a resolute Yeovil defence, with the visitors getting men behind the ball at every opportunity. Clark opted for a change in personnel just after the hour mark as Zigic was replaced by Shane Ferguson and then a few minutes later Elliott came on for Brown.
An incredible stop from Stech denied Blues a route back into the game on 68 minutes. The ball broke to Howard just ten yards out and the debutant’s shot looked to have beaten the Yeovil keeper until he impulsively stuck out a hand to stop it from crossing the line.
Lee’s late shot was kept out by Stech and Elliott’s drive deflected over by Edwards but otherwise Yeovil looked in little danger of relinquishing their two-goal cushion and picked up a hard-earned three points. Blues, meanwhile, must regroup and get ready for three more home games in the space of eight days, starting with next week’s cup rematch with Premier League Swansea City.