Report: Blues 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Blues beat West Bromwich Albion in the Sky Bet Championship on Sunday afternoon.
Lyle Taylor's 67th-minute spot kick, his fourth goal for the Club, gave Lee Bowyer's side a deserved victory at St. Andrew's against their local rivals.
The success also saw Birmingham City record a third clean sheet in four matches and claim West Midlands bragging rights in the fixture for the first time since October 2006.
The Head Coach made two changes to the side that earned a point on the road at Swansea City last time out. Fit-again Taylor started alongside Scott Hogan at the sharp end and Kristian Pedersen was back in from the start after serving a one-game suspension for the trip to South Wales.
There was little incident in the opening quarter of the match except for a series of hearty midfield challenges that is a given on the bingo card for any West Midlands derby. And the only goalmouth action of any note saw Neil Etheridge get his angles right to judge the flight of a West Brom corner, beating it away from any immediate danger.
Blues did keep Sam Johnstone honest when Kristian Pedersen’s cunning flick found Gary Gardner who shot low, but even if he had hit the net he would have been denied by a raised flag.
This certainly lifted the hosts, and they had the best opening so far after 35 minutes. Hitting Albion on the counter, the ball was spread wide to Taylor who then drifted in field before diagonally flighting possession to Tahith Chong in the box. He controlled on his chest and struck it sweetly, with Semi Ajayi getting between the Dutchman and a first home counter.
HALF-TIME: Blues 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
Bowyer’s men started the second period on the front foot and after a succession of balls into the box were cleared, managed to test the Baggies stopper from outside of it. Juninho Bacuna jinked his way inside and fired low at goal in the game’s first effort on target.
However, this moment of positivity was shortly followed by one of concern. Chong pulled up injured and had to be replaced from the bench by fellow loanee Taylor Richards.
But B9 was about to come to life for all the right reasons when Blues were rightfully awarded a penalty as Conor Townsend handled Onel Hernandez’ hooked cross from the byline. Back from injury and assured of penalty-taking duties upon signing, Taylor took his trademark processional run-up before wrapping the ball into the goal’s left-hand side.
And still high on the emotion from his goal, the frontman was booked for some tomfoolery between himself and second-half substitute Andy Carroll, but not before he had twice given the crowd even more to cheer about – showing tremendous workrate to stifle Albion attacks.
That set the tone for the final 15 minutes and Blues had to dig in. This was not only in terms of defending an aerial bombardment that they were subjected to but also being wise to West Brom’s attempts to play their way through. Kristian Pedersen leading by example when he challenged Callum Robinson just metres from goal was a particular highlight.
Although it was a case of hearts in mouths when Carroll met the ball on his forrid from eight yards out, only for his header to drop wide late on and for Blues to see out an octad of added minutes.
St. Andrew's paused before kick-off to remember lifelong supporter Barrington Patterson who sadly passed away last month, with all four sides of the Stadium uniting in applause and a rendition of Keep Right On.
Blues leapfrog Bristol City into 18th position and have 45 points from their 40 league matches.
Blues (3-4-1-2): Neil Etheridge, Maxime Colin, Marc Roberts, Nico Gordon, Onel Hernandez, Gary Gardner (captain), Juninho Bacuna (Ivan Sunjic 85), Kristian Pedersen, Tahith Chong (Taylor Richards 56), Lyle Taylor (90+1), Scott Hogan.
Substitutes not used: Connal Trueman, Ryan Woods, Jordan Graham, Jeremie Bela.
Booking: Taylor 75, Bacuna 85.
West Bromwich Albion: Sam Johnstone, Semi Ajayi, Kyle Bartley, Matt Clarke, Darnell Furlong, Taylor Gardner-Hickman (Grady Diangana 60), Jake Livermore, Alex Mowatt, Conor Townsend, Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant (Andy Carroll 68).
Substitutes not used: David Button, Dara O’Shea, Jayson Molumby, Adam Reach, Cedric Kirpre.
Booking: Robinson 76.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.
Blues begin their final half-a-dozen league outings with a trip to Nottingham Forest next Saturday, kick-off 3pm, before a double header over the Easter Weekend. That starts at St. Andrew's on Good Friday against Coventry City and then there is a Bank Holiday Monday journey to Blackpool, both also being 3pm kick-offs.