Blues suffered rare away loss under Gary Rowett as they were beaten 4-3 by Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Clayton Donaldson, Wes Thomas and Lee Novak all scored a goal apiece for Blues. But a brace from Brighton’s Inigo Teixeira and two goals Inigo Calderon was enough to see the Seagulls to all three points.
In a game which had numerous twists and turns, Blues were guilty of missing a first-half penalty which could quite easily changed the story of the game.
Gary Rowett made two changes to his starting line-up. Recent loan signing Rob Kiernan was given his debut, as he came in for injured midfielder David Davis. Elsewhere, Lloyd Dyer replaced David Cotterill, with the Welsh winger dropped to the subs' bench.
The hosts were extremely lively in the opening minutes and made several incursions deep into the Blues half.
They were almost rewarded with an opening goal after just seven minutes when Sam Baldock beat the offside trap, but with just Darren Randolph in front of him he fired his shot just wide of the far post.
However, Brighton only had to wait an additional minute to break the deadlock through Teixeira. Teixeira found a yard of space before drilling a low effort past Randolph at the base of his near post, and in fairness the Blues stopper should have done better as he allowed the ball to squirm under him.
Five minutes later Blues were right back in it. It was slightly fortuitous goal as Stephen Gleeson tried his luck from the edge of the box and Donaldson stuck out a foot to deflect the ball past Brighton keeper David Stockdale, who was wrong-footed as it flew into the back of the net.
With 20 minutes played captain Paul Robinson was forced to put in a goal-saving tackle to deny Baldock with the Brighton frontman looking odds-on to score.
Andy Shinnie had an ideal opportunity to give Blues the lead. Paul Caddis’ fierce long –range shot was parried into Shinnie’s path. But under pressure from two Brighton defenders, the midfielder blasted the ball over the bar from ten yards out.
As the half progressed Brighton were looking a real threat and the Blues midfield was struggling to cope with the hosts’ incisive passing and movement.
But Donaldson had an excellent chance to double his tally after 36 minutes when Dyer fed the ball through to him. With just Stockdale to beat; his shot was parried by the Brighton stopper.
With the game in added minutes at the end of the half, Blues had the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Shinnie was bundled over by Bruno and the referee pointed straight to the spot. The normally reliable Paul Caddis was given the task of scoring it, but this time Stockdale guessed the correct direction of travel and dived to his left to save it.
Just five minutes into the second-half Blues found themselves behind for a second time when Calderon beat Randolph from close-range. Baldock crossed the ball in from the left, where it was met by his teammate who stroked it home from inside the six-yard box. Despite the protestations of the Blues defence who clearly felt that the Brighton man was offside, it was allowed to stand by referee Gary Sutton.
Things got even worse for Blues as they found themselves 3-1 down after 58 minutes. Bruno crossed the ball in from the right and following a scramble; the ball came back off Randolph and dropped nicely to Teixeira who drilled it home from ten yards.
Just after the hour-mark Rowett made a double substitution as he sent on Novak and Thomas on for Shinnie and Dyer.
Blues were right back in it on 76 minutes when Thomas pulled a goal back after Novak’s pass found him deep in the area. Despite being under pressure he managed to out fox Lewis Dunk, before turning and smashing the ball home.
But it was as good as game over with five minutes of normal time remaining when Calderon scored his second goal of the game. The ball was sent into the Blues box via a free-kick, where it was headed goalwards, before deflecting off a Blues defender into the path of Calderon who held off two players before slotting it past Randolph.
Blues were given just a glimmer of hope two minutes into stoppage time when Novak found the back of the net from just inside the box to reduce the deficit to just one goal. But unfortunately it was too little too late for the visitors.