Football: Hughes dents Blues

Birmingham City 1 A Johnson 43 West Bromwich Albion 1 Hughes 53 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 25,495

BAGGIES' FANS will be saddened their unofficial media mascot, Frank Skinner, could not persuade the BBC to provide him with the reported pounds 20m contract he was seeking - perhaps, if he had, he may have felt compelled to scatter some of the proceeds Brian Little's way.

While Little has steered his team well this season - undefeated so far is no mean achievement - he unquestionably needs to bolster his playing resources to serve his star men better.

With the ever-willing Lee Hughes a solo operator for long periods and a game plan designed to stifle rather than strike fear into the opposition, one can only speculate as to how long this dour approach can succeed. It was Hughes who cancelled out Andrew Johnson's precise first-half strike, the Birmingham striker's first league goal, when he spun and struck home from close range after being fed by Kevin Kilbane.

This duo, plus the inspired Alan Miller in goal, were the only real suggestions of the kind of quality Little will require if his team is to stay with the leading pack. While the industry and determination of the Haw-thorns side is to be applauded, there will clearly be times when tiredness or injury take their toll and they do not get the run of the ball that they enjoyed yesterday. After the game, Little felt his team had performed well in open play but struggled with Birmingham's clear quality advantage on set-pieces.

While that is a touch disingenuous - Birmingham had the bulk of possession and, in the second half at least, managed to weave together some neat passing sequences - Little had a point in that his defence, while they were often stretched, held their nerve largely to counter the threats of Paul Furlong and, his goal aside, Johnson.

Trevor Francis had expected this derby opposition to provide a test of character and had predicted their tactics accurately. "On possession and chances we should have won the game but their approach was to try for nil-nil and hope they'd nick a goal," said the Birmingham manager. "Hughes is one of the best strikers in the League and his goal was the first chance they had - but there was nothing we could have done about it.

"I thought we played well and had good moments but Miller was inspired," Francis added. It would be no exaggeration to say that the keeper's contribution was at least the equal of his team's striker. With his defence creaking under pressure, Miller's one-handed save to deny Jon McCarthy, whose edge- of-the-box volley was struck with venom and accuracy, showed genuine class and, moments later, he smartly dropped low to his left to thwart Johnson.

So, records to be envied remained intact at St Andrew's. West Brom are still undefeated, though they have won just two of their six Nationwide games, and Birmingham have yet to lose at home. Brian Little's assessment, however, speaks for itself: "At the end, we were hanging on and, fortunately, we are getting some good breaks at the moment."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style