Birmingham 1 West Brom 3: Carling Cup hangover for Blues as Baggies clinch precious win

05 March 2011 11:03

The party has gone flat, then. What should have been a joyous occasion as a civic reception is staged in honour of Birmingham's first major trophy in 48 years has become the bash that nobody wants to attend.

Certainly none of the Birmingham players or fans who turn out to celebrate last Sunday's Carling Cup win at Wembley over Arsenal will be jigging with joy unconfined. 

Tight angle: Paul Scharner (right) secures the points

A week of euphoria turned, in 90 minutes of Blues torpor, into a weekend of gloom if not outright despair.

The relegation battle has been well and truly rejoined and Birmingham are on the trapdoor.They now face the harsh reality of being contenders to repeat the unwanted 'double but trouble' feat of Norwich, who won the League Cup then were relegated from the top division in 1985.

This was a typical game of two halves: the first as dull as mud with neither side likely to score, the second an explosion of ambition by the visitors.

Brilliant strike: James Morrison (right) fires West Brom 2-1 in front

West Bromwich took the lead through Youssuf Mulumbu soon after the restart only to be pegged back 79 seconds later by Jean Beausejour.

MATCH FACTSBIRMINGHAM (4-4-2): Foster; Carr, Davies, Johnson, Ridgewell (Murphy 79min); Beausejour (Phillips 67),Bowyer, Fahey, Bentley; Jerome, Martins. Subs (not used): Doyle, Larsson, Zigic, Parnaby, Mutch. Booked: Bowyer,Ridgewell, Fahey.WEST BROM (4-2-3-1): Carson; Reid, Meite, Olsson, Shorey; Scharner, Mulumbu; Brunt, Morrison (Tamas 77), Thomas (Jara 66); Fortune (Odemwingie 46). Subs (not used): Myhill, Tchoyi, Vela, Cox. Booked: Scharner.Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).

After that, though, it was one-way traffic, with James Morrison and Paul Scharner extending the lead, which would have been bigger had Peter Odemwingie not missed an open goal.

'Wembley was a factor in the performance today,' said Birmingham boss Alex McLeish, who had to make five changes and started without Barry Ferguson, Seb Larsson and Nikola Zigic.

'Having to make forced changes hurt us. We looked for inspiration and it didn't materialise.'

Albion, now with 32 points, have leapfrogged their rivals, who remain on 30 points, just three above the bottom.

McLeish's team have games in hand but equally they have injured players. Ferguson has a broken rib that could take weeks to heal.

'The boys are aware of the relegation fight,' McLeish said. 'It hasn't just crept up on them.'

The only chance of significance in the opening half fell to Cameron Jerome, set up for a diving header by a delicate Beausejour ball into the area.

The effort went just wide. That miss became costly just after the restart when a clearance by Ben Foster fell to Keith Fahey, who failed to control it.

Delight: Youssuf Mulumbu (right) is congratulated by Peter Odemwingie after scoring West Brom's opener

The ball broke to Mulumbu and the 24-year-old midfielder exchanged passes with Odemwingie before poking home. Birmingham levelled rapidly, Beausejour finishing a move that had Stephen Carr and Lee Bowyer in the supply line.

Bowyer then made a bit of unwanted history by picking up his 100th yellow card in the Premier League. Morrison put Albion ahead in the 58th minute after a strong run from Steven Reid, who crossed to the middle.

Bowyer's attempted challenge on Morrison was blocked by Jonas Olsson, allowing Morrison to step left and smack the ball home. Odemwingie should have made it 3-1 when Chris Brunt's shot rebounded into his path off the post but he fired over. Scharner made the points certain after 72 minutes with a header back across goal and Foster could only palm it over the line.

McLeish's counterpart, Roy Hodgson,said he hopes 42 points will be enough. 'But there are no targets, Iwouldn't dare set them,' he said. 'I take the cliched view of one gameat a time, and I mean it.'

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 Explore more:People: Paul Scharner, James Morrison, Lee Bowyer, Alex McLeish, Jerome Thomas, Roy Hodgson, Roger Johnson, Ben Foster, Liam Ridgewell Places: Birmingham

Source: Daily_Mail