Blues’ six-match unbeaten league run came to a disappointing end as Alan Dunne’s second-half header secured victory for visiting Millwall at St. Andrew’s.
Gary Rowett named an unchanged side from the one that drew with Fulham on Saturday but they were unable to replicate their attacking endeavours at Craven Cottage. Blues struggled to get into their groove on a frustrating evening for the home faithful.
The Lions belied their lowly league position with a confident and determined display which was capped off by Dunne’s 51st minute clincher. Blues, meanwhile, struggled to break down a determined visitors rearguard. The closest the hosts came to levelling was from Jonathan Grounds’ header that struck the crossbar.
Millwall enjoyed the better of the early possession with Lee Martin firing over from 20 yards and Stefan Maierhofer strayed marginally offside after seeing his shot smothered by Darren Randolph. At the opposite end, Blues’ first threatening moment arrived on ten minutes when Dunne brought down Clayton Donaldson just outside the area. It was a free-kick in a promising position but for once set-piece supremo David Cotterill could only fire his shot into the Millwall wall.
The visitors carved out a good opportunity three minutes later when Martin’s cross from the left dropped to Diego Fabrini just six yards out but the Italian was unable to get any power into his shot and Randolph saved comfortably down to his left. The Lions missed an even better chance soon afterwards when Martyn Woolford played a one-two with Maierhofer which put him clear through on goal. As Randolph came out to narrow the angle, the Millwall winger lobbed the ball neatly over him only to see his shot bounce back off the crossbar.
Blues broke quickly and Donaldson’s looping header from Cotterill’s right-wing cross dropped just over David Forde’s crossbar. In an eventful opening to the game, Daniel Harding advanced from left-back to send in a fierce drive that Randolph did well to claim.
The best moment of the first-half from a home perspective came 11 minutes from the break when Donaldson showed great footwork to weave his way past two Millwall defenders and into a one-on-one with Forde. Blues’ top scorer couldn’t cap off his terrific approach play as his curling effort was turned aside by the Millwall keeper.
A clever back-heel from Andy Shinnie teed up the onrushing Paul Caddis inside the area but unfortunately the full-back wasn’t able to pull the ball back to one of his waiting team-mates inside the six-yard box.
Blues had gained some momentum as half-time approached and Forde needed to be alert to save David Davis’ 20-yard deflected effort. And the Blues midfielder was involved again just before the break when his terrific out-swinging cross dropped to an unmarked Cotterill but the Blues winger’s attempted volley flashed well wide.
Cotterill’s cross was headed wide by Donaldson as Rowett’s men also made an encouraging start to the second-half but it was the visitors that edged in front on 51 minutes. Dunne was first to the loose ball after Maierhofer’s header was blocked and the Millwall captain nodded the ball emphatically past Randolph.
Blues were indebted to Randolph as he turned aside Martin’s shot and then Paul Robinson was on hand to scramble the ball clear as the Lions threatened to double their advantage. Rowett’s response was to make a double change as Demarai Gray and Lee Novak replaced Lloyd Dyer and Shinnie. Gray was straight into the action with an instinctive shot from a narrow angle wide on the left that Forde was forced to push over his crossbar.
The Lions then had the woodwork to thank for retaining their lead on 74 minutes. Cotterill’s deep corner was met by a towering header from Jonathan Grounds but the ball crashed back off the bar. Moments later and a dangerous dash down the left from Gray ended with a cross-cum-shot that floated agonisingly wide of the far post.
Zigic was introduced to the fray late on but try as he might there was no way through and it was the Lions that claimed the spoils and their first win at St. Andrew's since 1968. Blues remain in 11th spot but are now 14 points adrift of the Sky Bet Championship’s top six.