Football: Blues have no head for heights

Bradford City 2 Birmingham City 1: Mills and Moore lift Bradford
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The Independent Online
BIRMINGHAM'S INABILITY to defend from corners cost them their unbeaten record yesterday as Bradford headed for their first win of the season.

Aerial strikes from Lee Mills and Darren Moore gave the home side a much- needed victory after Peter Ndlovu had opened the scoring. It was a match that burst into action in the second half after the stalest of stalemates in the first and it was fitting that it should be Ndlovu who broke the deadlock.

The Zimbabwean had been the one man who had threatened to score, his pace taking him clear on a couple of occasions only for his finishing to let him down.

But when Martin Grainger's deep cross from the left 11 minutes after the break took a helpful deflection, the ball dropped on to Ndlovu's chest and sat up obligingly for him to volley home.

Birmingham, as befits their league position, had looked the more accomplished side by a distance and the educated touches of Chris Marsden in midfield gave them the game's most creative figure.

But Bradford, with the conspicuous efforts of Stuart McCall setting the tone, kept battling away in the hopes of salvaging something. Three minutes after Ndlovu's goal, they were level, Gareth Whalley putting in a corner from the right but found Mills on the far post, who beat Gary Walsh with a strong header.

Bradford's winner came when Whalley picked out his man equally well from the left and Moore met the ball with unarguable power.

It was the first goal for the club from the Birmingham-born central defender, whose good afternoon's work also included keeping Birmingham's prolific Dele Adebola on a tight rein.

Adebola did manage to slip the leash when Birmingham threw themselves forward in search of an equaliser. On one occasion, he missed his kick as the ball was dropping invitingly for him and on another a muscular run ended with a shot that was blocked.

As time run out, Ndlovu got in a glancing header that could have made it all square but Walsh was alert to the danger and Birmingham paid the full penalty for their lax defending.

"What happened was unacceptable," said the Birmingham manager, Trevor Francis. "Bradford had two good headers of the ball and we left them unmarked and unchallenged.

"There were players who shirked their responsibility and to lose in that manner is disappointing. We lost through two corners that we couldn't head."

Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; O'Brien, Moore, Dreyer, Jacobs; Lawrence (Pepper, 21), McCall, Whalley, Beagrie; Mills, Rankin (Grant, 68). Substitute not used: Prudhoe (gk).

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Bennett; Rowett, Ablett, M Johnson (Purse, 26), Grainger; McCarthy (Robinson, 87), O'Connor, Marsden, Ndlovu; Adebola, Forster (A Johnson, 68).

Referee: M Pike (Barrow).