Football: Birmingham City 4 West Bromwich Albion 0 - Adebola rev ival prompts derby dominance

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The Independent Online
IN FRONT of their biggest home crowd for five years, Birmingham treated themselves to their most comprehensive home win of the season, a victory that was enjoyed with extra relish given that it was a West Midlands derby.

Birmingham may be nicknamed the Blues but it was the visitors who went home feeling decidedly depressed as their six-game unbeaten run came to a crushing halt and they simultaneously dropped out of the play-off zone. And this result left the West Bromwich manager, Denis Smith, seriously doubting his players' commitment to reaching the play-offs this season, as he remarked: "Some players have got to look at themselves and ask if they want to finish in the top six."

That was in stark contrast to Birmingham's approach which, after a subdued first 20 minutes, produced so many chances that with a shade more luck they would have at least matched the seven they scored at Oxford in December.

The man who was more pleased than most was the destroyer-in-chief Dele Adebola, recently dropped by his manager, Trevor Francis, but who since his recall three games ago has now scored four times. Francis was quick to praise his rejuvenated striker, saying: "Dele is over the slump that saw him lose his place in the team. He and Peter Ndlovu were quite brilliant."

Adebola, 23, himself admitted afterwards that being left out had done him good, but on this evidence he is unlikely to be left out again as he helped Birmingham extend their run to only one defeat in their last 15 League games and virtually guaranteed a play-off place.

For his first goal Adebola turned his marker to slot the ball home from 12 yards, but it was not until five minutes after the break that Ndlovu doubled the lead. Controlling Simon Charlton's defence-splitting 50-yard diagonal pass, the Zimbabwean cut inside the defence to shoot home and 11 minutes later Adebola simply charged down the middle of the pitch and calmly scored. Martin Grainger completed the visitors' misery with a tap- in.

Goals: Adebola (24) 1-0; Ndlovu (50) 2-0; Adebola (62) 3-0; Grainger (88) 4-0.

Birmingham City: (4-4-2) Poole; Bass, Rowett, Johnson, Charlton; Hughes, Hyde, O'Connor (McCarthy, 63), Grainger; Adebola (Forster, 83), Ndlovu (Furlong, 83).

West Bromwich Albion: (4-4-2) Whitehead; McDermott, Burgess, Carbon, Potter (Murphy, 73); Flynn, Maresca (Bortolazzi, 71), Sneekes, Kilbane; De Freitas, Quinn (Angel, 60).

Bookings: Birmingham: Rowett; WBA: McDermott, Flynn, Burgess, Maresca.

Referee: T Heilbron (Co Durham)

Man of the match: Dele Adebola.

Attendance: 29,060.

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