Blues completed their 2014/15 Sky Bet Championship home campaign with a narrow, but well-deserved victory against Charlton Athletic.
Lloyd Dyer came of the substitutes’ bench to fire home the decisive goal late on, but it was no less than Blues deserved as they fashioned numerous chances against their South London opponents.
Gary Rowett made three changes to the side that beat Reading on Wednesday.
Demarai Gray, David Davis and David Cotterill all returned to the starting line-up. And with the absence of Rob Kiernan because of a hamstring problem, Jonathan Spector moved back into the centre of defence.
Blues came desperately close to taking the lead with less than four minutes played after Robert Tesche let fly with a stinging shot from 25 yards. Charlton keeper Stephen Henderson did well to tip the midfielder’s effort onto the post at full stretch, before the visiting defence scrambled the ball away from the danger zone.
Former Blues defender Roger Johnson was then forced put in a terrific block to cut out Gray’s goalbound effort before Cotterill tried his luck with a speculative effort from distance which sailed over the bar.
Blues were looking really lively moving forwards and with 13 minutes gone Diego Fabbrini should have done better when Gray’s pass found him just six yards out, be he managed to stab the ball just wide.
The Italian also had the next opportunity when he tried his luck with a powerful shot from 12 yards, but this time he failed to keep the ball down.
With 25 minutes on the clock Darren Randolph was forced into action when Tony Watt shot from the edge of the area, but the Blues stopper produced an excellent save to push the ball behind for a corner.
A great piece of play down the left by Blues concluded with the ball finding its way to Tesche just outside the area. The German struck a firm shot, which Addicks keeper Henderson saved low down in the corner of the goal.
Half-time: Blues 0 Charlton 0
Blues made a lively start to the second period of the game and their forward play won them a succession of corners, but they were unable to make them count.
Cotterill then had two attempts just minutes apart. The first was a shot from 20 yards that flew wide and then second a low chance which lacked power and was comfortably saved.
A great piece of dribbling play by Gray saw him move deep into the Charlton half before laying the ball off to Cotterill who attempted a right-footed curling effort which skimmed off the outside of the far post.
Against the run of play, Charlton broke at speed and Igor Vetokele tested Randolph with snap shot, which was well-saved by the Blues keeper.
The next opportunity also fell to the Addicks and once again it also came on the break. But this time Randolph was forced to pull off a smart save to deny Tony Watt.
Blues had a decent shout for a penalty when Gray’s shot appeared to hit Johnson’s hand, but the referee waved away their appeals.
Rowett’s side continued to press forward in search of that elusive opening goal. Dyer fired wide and then Tal Ben Haim did well to scoop Jonathan Ground’s headed attempt away from in front of his own goal line.
The deadlock was finally broken after 82 minutes and what a great goal it was. Wes Thomas won the ball back in the centre-circle. He spread it wide to Tesche who then fed it into the path of Dyer.
The on-loan Watford man ran at the full-back before smashing a ball into the far corner of the net.