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."

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin