Wolves were competitive throughout and with better finishing might have stolen a point, but it will be scant consolation to Mark McGhee, their beleaguered manager, who must now turn his attention to a potentially uncomfortable return trip to his former employers Reading in the Coca- Cola Cup tomorrow night.
It was a much-needed win for Trevor Francis's Birmingham side, after three defeats in four games. Their midfield trio of Marsden, Bryan Hughes and the Northern Ireland international Jon McCarthy were frequently creative in front of a solid back five well marshalled by Steve Bruce, and they can now look forward to an evening in the Highbury limelight tomorrow. "I should imagine Arsenal will be pretty frightened after that performance," Francis said before breaking into a broad smile.
Marsden was one of three significant changes to a Birmingham side disappointingly beaten by Crewe in their last game, also at St Andrew's.
Peter Ndlovu and Kevin Francis were left out as Paul Devlin and Paul Furlong returned to the attack, and it was Devlin to whom the first chance fell after five minutes, Jon McCarthy slipping the ball through only for Devlin to skew his shot wide.
Blues had taken the initiative and they did not have long to wait for their enterprise to be rewarded. Marsden, picking up a loose ball halfway into the Wolves half, waltzed through to the edge of the area before attempting to supply Devlin. His intended pass cannoned back off Mark Atkins, inviting Marsden to shoot, which he did, right-footed with confidence and accuracy past Mike Stowell.
Wolves took a while to recover from the shock. Only a well-timed tackled by Keith Curle prevented McCarthy from increasing the lead after a fine run, and Wolves had to wait until the 24th minute before they had anything like a chance, Steve Bull seeing his hurried shot deflected wide.
Chances were few and far between in the second half. Peter Ndlovu made a belated appearance in place of Furlong and his pace provided a chance with Martin Grainger which the former Brentford man headed powerfully just past the post.
In the end though the result was about right. "A performance like that would have won many matches,'' McGhee said. He had better hope that he gets a chance to test his hypothesis.
Goal: Marsden (7) 1-0.
Birmingham City (5-3-2): Bennett; McCarthy, Bass, Bruce, Ablett, Grainger; O'Connor, Hughes (Hey, 79), Marsden; Devlin, Furlong (Ndlovu, 67). Substitute not used: Johnson.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (5-3-2): Stowell; Smith, Williams, Atkins, Curle, Naylor; Garcia Sanjuan (Robinson, h-t), Ferguson, Simpson; Keane (Foley, 63), Bull. Substitute not used: Westwood.
Referee: M Brandwood (Lichfield). Bookings: Birmingham: Bruce, Grainger. Wolves: Robinson, Curle, Naylor, Ferguson.
Man of the match: McCarthy.
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