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Match Report


Posted Sat 21 Aug 10 at 17:11 PM

Report: Birmingham City 2 Rovers 1

An inspirational display from Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster saw the home side condemn Rovers to defeat at St Andrews.

Home favourite Craig Gardner's brace cancelled out Steven Nzonzi's opener, but it was Foster's display that stole the show.

After a goalless first half in which Rovers had nothing to show for their dominance, an early second half penalty after Chris Samba was pushed over by Zigic gave them the perfect opportunity to redress the balance.

But although Morten Gamst Pedersen struck the spot-kick sweetly from twelve yards, Ben Foster pulled off a stupendous save to touch the ball onto the post.

Moments later he was at it again when from a long Pedersen throw was flicked goalwards by Steven Nzonzi, Foster's fingertips getting the ball over the bar.

From the resulting corner kick it was third time lucky as Steven Nzonzi rose to head home from Pedersen's inswinger from the right.

But Rovers fell asleep and a long ball forward three minutes later was fed by James McFadden onto Craig Gardner who made no mistake from six yards.

Foster then denied Kalinic before the Croatia went closer when his header struck the post.

But those missed chances proved costly as the Rovers defence backed off and Gardner let fly from 25 yards and his effort crept into the far corner past Robinson.

Rovers poured forward in an attempt to get something from the game their play deserved, Foster denied El-Hadji Diouf twice, and whilst there was late drama as Robinson came up for two injury-time corner kicks the visitors failed to get their reward.

Ahead of Rovers' first away game of the season, Sam Allardyce made just the one change from the side that started the win over Everton at Ewood Park seven days earlier.

David Dunn hadn't recovered from the groin injury that forced him out of the game against the Toffees early on, therefore he missed out on a St. Andrews return with Steven Nzonzi taking his place.

Rovers lined up with their 4-1-4-1 formation that had worked so well on the opening day of the season and they started with the same resolute mind.

Restricting the home side to very little it was the Birmingham defence who were the busier of the two sides in the first half, but whilst enjoyed plenty of possession and the territorial advantage, efforts on target were at a premium.

Martin Olsson saw a shot across the area deflected over the crossbar, then from the resulting Morten Gamst Pedersen corner, El-Hadji Diouf lashed a fearsome effort narrowly over the bar.

A Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick past the quarter hour merited more, his vicious inswinger eluding the outstretched Rovers' boots.

Rovers continued to press and probe, the home fans growing all the more frustrated at their side's lack of enterprise. At the opposite end the Rovers fans were making all the noise.

Birmingham fashioned their first chance of note just before the hour mark when only the quick reactions of Paul Robinson stopped the home side taking the lead. Sebastian Larsson's corner picked out the head of Scott Dann at the back post but Robinson was alert to push the ball over the bar.

Rovers ended the half strongly, with Niko Kalinic proving to be a real handful to Johnson and Dann at the back but he couldn't get a clean shot away at goal.

Neither side made a change at the break but it was Rovers who maintained their momentum from the first half with a sharp start to the second.

Just four minutes after the turnaround Rovers were handed the chance to take the lead when rookie referee Michael Oliver saw Nikola Zigic pull Chris Samba down in the area.

Morten Gamst Pedersen stepped up to strike the penalty strongly, but Ben Foster dived full length to his left to tip the ball onto the post.

Moments later and Foster was at it again, Pedersen's long throw was flicked by Steven Nzonzi but the former Manchester United stopper got his fingertips to the ball to send it over the bar.

But Rovers weren't to be denied and from the resulting Pedersen corner kick Steven Nzonzi rose highest to send the ball into the back of the net.

However the lead lasted just three minutes as Rovers were caught napping by a ling ball. Steven Carr sent the ball forward, James McFadden volleyed across the area where Craig Gardner arrived to notch from close range.

That didn't dampen Rovers' hopes however and they roared back up the other end, only the superb reactions of Ben Foster stopping them regaining the lead as Niko Kalinic swept the ball goalwards.

Then just past the hour mark the Croatian must have thought last season's luck had returned when he headed Pedersen's free-kick onto the post.

Those missed chances proved costly as on 71 minutes the Rovers defence gave Craig Gardner far too much room and the former Villa man hit a 25 yard strike that crept in at the far post past Robinson.

Rovers poured forward looking for a leveller, Mame Biram Diouf was introduced, but it was his name sake El-Hadji Diouf who was Rovers' star performer, but his curling effort was kept away by the impressive Foster who was the home sponsor's man of the match.

At the death a blocked shot from Hoilett meant two last gasp corners from which Paul Robinson came up, but nothing came of them and it saw Rovers consigned to an undeserved defeat.

BIRMINGHAM: Foster, Carr (c), Johnson, Ridgewell, Larsson, Gardner (sub Fahey 82 mins), Jerome, Ferguson, Dann, McFadden (sub Bowyer 78 mins), Zigic (sub Derbyshire 67 mins)

Subs not used: Taylor (GK), Murphy, O'Connor, Michel

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (c), Nelsen, Givet (sub MB Diouf 73 mins), Jones (sub Emerton 64 mins), EH Diouf, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Olsson, Kalinić (sub Hoilett 84 mins).

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Jacobsen, Judge, Morris.

Booked: Larsson (Birmingham), Nzonzi, MB Diouf, Nelsen (Rovers)

Attendance: 21,394

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