Football: Furlong stokes fire

Birmingham City 3 Furlong 2, 65, Legg 32 Stoke City 1 Forsyt h 66 Attendance: 18,612
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Perhaps Birmingham, who hadn't won a league match since the opening day of the season, were the hungrier. They certainly weren't two goals better than Stoke, who played the more constructive and composed football for the most part. But gifting your opponents a goal within 90 seconds does leave you with something of an uphill struggle.

The culprit was the Stoke goalkeeper, Carl Muggleton, who dallied on Carl Beeston's long back-pass long enough for Paul Furlong to charge down the clearance, chase the ricochet and head into an empty net.

It took time for the visitors to recover from that sucker punch and Jason Bowen and Andy Legg took full advantage, burrowing away at Stoke's defence relentlessly on both wings. After 32 minutes, Legg received just reward when he was first to Barry Horne's precise cross to the far post to stab home the second.

Graham Kavanagh had replaced the injured Beeston in the 25th minute, but sadly only really found his feet in the second half. He was the inspiration for Stoke's 20 minutes of dominance after the restart. In that time they forced eight successive corners, and Ian Bennett earned his corn by touching over Ally Pickering's swerving volley.

But just when Stoke seemed about to underline their superiority with a goal, Chris Holland found an unmarked Furlong with an accurate right- wing cross and the striker pushed home his second.

Ironically, within seconds of the restart, Richard Forsyth was shooting through Bennett's legs to climax good work by Mike Sheron with a neatly taken goal. A minute earlier and it could have changed the outcome.

As it was Stoke still endeavoured to push forward and Bennett had to pull off the day's best save when Steve Bruce's header looked like sneaking in to his own net. Bruce could be forgiven that late aberration as he had shown his value by keeping his own cool and that of those around him when Stoke were in danger of overwhelming the home defence.

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