Report: Blues 0-1 Wigan Athletic
Blues were beaten by Wigan Athletic in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon.
Nathan Broadhead's 82nd-minute goal for the ten-man Latics saw John Eustace's Birmingham City beaten for the first time at St. Andrew's this season.
The Head Coach made one change from the hosting of Watford. Troy Deeney was swapped out for fellow striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, with Juninho Bacuna taking the armband.
Given the license for Blues' wing-backs to get forward, it was little surprise that their early involvement brought about the contest's first chance. Determined work from Josh Williams on the right saw the ball find its way across the area and Przemyslaw Placheta made a good connection, only for the accuracy to be missing.
If that had whetted the home crowd's appetite for action then what followed certainly satisfied their cravings. Bacuna set Jutkiewicz clear and when his run forward crossed paths with Joe Bennett, the striker felt impeded and the referee agreed, issuing a straight red card to the Wigan defender.
Eager to capitalise on their numerical advantage, the hosts went on the offensive and only a flying block from Jack Whatmough denied Scott Hogan from converting a low pullback.
Wigan were next to fashion a chance and when John Ruddy punched a corner, Tom Naylor snatched at the loose ball to miss the target altogether. Nonetheless, this served as a reminder of the job that still needed to be done and Jordan James was unlucky to watch his 25-yard shot dip wide.
HALF-TIME: Blues 0-0 Wigan Athletic
There was a less dramatic start to the second period and the visitors, keen on taking their time over matters, were doing their utmost to disrupt Birmingham's flow. However, such ploys did not stop Eustace's men from creating chances and Bacuna fired in a warning before Jutkiewicz kept Jamie Jones honest with a looping header.
But not content just yet, the Gaffer introduced both Troy Deeney and Jonathan Leko, and the latter immediately forced the opposition goalkeeper into handling the ball suspiciously close to the edge of his area.
Despite strong Blues appeals, Andy Davies was unmoved and the dissatisfaction towards the official was heightened when Will Keane's industrial challenge on James earned him just a booking.
The home team were beginning to really stretch the Latics and when Placheta stepped on the gas to provide Scott Hogan with a crossing opportunity, the number nine's delivery had everything but a finishing touch applied.
But when a connection was administered to Leko's deflected centre, fellow substitute Sam Cosgrove's drive was somehow kept out by a combination of bodies.
Then, completely against the run of play, Wigan snatched it. Broadhead rummaged his way into the box and drove the ball in at the near post.
Refusing to accept the outcome, Blues kept pushing and a chance fell to late introduction Jobe Bellingham, only for his attempt to be held by Jones.
Bennett's 10th-minute dismissal saw Blues control large periods of the match but, unfortunately, the old adage of it being harder to play against ten men proved to be true in B9.
The narrow defeat means Blues remain on five points, having played a quintet of their 46 league fixtures.
Blues (3-5-2): John Ruddy, Maxime Colin (Jobe Bellingham 86), Dion Sanderson, Auston Trusty, Josh Williams (Jonathan Leko 57), Jordan James, Juninho Bacuna (Captain), George Hall (Sam Cosgrove 80), Przemyslaw Placheta, Scott Hogan, Lukas Jutkiewicz (Troy Deeney 57).
Substitutes not used: Neil Etheridge, George Friend, Alfie Chang.
Wigan (4-2-3-1): Jamie Jones, Tendayi Darikwa (captain), Jack Whatmough, Jason Kerr, Joe Bennett, Tom Naylor, Max Power, Callum Lang (Nathan Broadhead 69), Will Keane (Charlie Wyke 70), James McClean (Graeme Shinnie 69), Josh Magennis (Ryan Nyambe 16).
Substitutes not used: Sam Tickle, Thelo Aasgaard, Stephen Humphrys.
Booking: Bennett sent off 10, Keane 65, Naylor 71.
Referee: Andy Davies.
Blues have a clear midweek schedule before they make the journey to South Yorkshire for a meeting with Rotherham United next Saturday, kick-off 3pm. The action is then back to St. Andrew's the following Tuesday, with Norwich City the visitors for August's final outing, kick-off 7.45pm.