Lita magic sees Blues past Leeds
Leroy Lita produced a moment of brilliance at Elland Road as his goal illuminated a largely dull game and earned Birmingham a 1-0 win over Leeds.
Like many on show in this game, the on-loan striker was a virtual spectator for most of the afternoon, but made his presence felt in the 76th minute when he cracked a bullet-like 30-yard drive beyond a helpless Paddy Kenny.
It was a goal Birmingham scarcely deserved, although Leeds' showing did not merit anything either, but that will matter little to City manager Lee Clark who celebrated his 40th birthday with his club's second away win in 11 months.
For a long time it had looked as though that would not be the outcome, with opportunities few and far between and only Ravel Morrison and El-Hadji Diouf looking like scoring.
Lita changed all that, however, as he ended both sides' two-game drawing streaks, with Birmingham finishing up in a manner that was representative of their three-goal comeback in the 3-3 draw at Millwall on Tuesday.
Leeds, though, were as limp as they were in their 1-1 result with Charlton, never getting going and nearly falling behind in the second minute when former player Steven Caldwell snapped a volley over.
Curtis Davies then put a header wide from a Nathan Redmond free-kick before Leeds woke up, with Sam Byram cutting in and driving against the legs of David Murphy.
The next effort was a Leeds one too, with England keeper Jack Butland sticking out a leg to save a Rodolph Austin shot he had initially misread, but there was no doubting Birmingham were the more accomplished side, with the roaming runs of Morrison and the strength of striker Marlon King impressive.
Despite that, they were not getting clear sightings of Kenny's goal and on a bitterly cold afternoon, the half-time whistle came as a relief to most, although the poor fare would continue into the second period.
It took until the 58th minute for either side to actually be presented with a clear shot at goal, with Morrison wasting it as Lee Peltier's poor clearance fell to him on the penalty spot.
It by no means opened the floodgates but El-Hadji Diouf then had a similar opening presented to him at the other end, his strike deflected over by Caldwell, but with Butland looking increasingly unsure under the high ball, Leeds had a sniff.
Unfortunately for them Butland was more than composed below head-height, as he demonstrated in the 70th minute when he produced a brilliant point-blank save to rebuff a diving Diouf header from a searching Byram cross.
Butland's acrobatics also paid dividends with 14 minutes remaining as Lita produced his moment of magic. He collected possession from Murphy, via a King dummy, and ignoring the wide-open overlap of Chris Burke, thumped a 30-yard drive beyond Kenny.
It could have been more for Birmingham not long after with King planting an audacious strike on to the bar. It would have been a flattering goal, but City had enough anyway.