Football: Purdie has answer

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Birmingham City. . . . . 1

Harding 9

Kidderminster Harriers. .2

Cartwright 28, Purdie 64

Attendance: 19,666

THE joke beforehand was that the upset would be a Birmingham City win. The club are struggling in the First Division and are undergoing a major overhaul courtesy of their new manager, Barry Fry, while Kidderminster Harriers had lost only once in 16 games and were three points clear at the top of the Conference.

And the joke was all on Birmingham as they let slip a 1-0 lead to the hod carriers and telephone salesmen of Kidderminster in a classic tie. Whether the Harriers deserved it is a moot point. They saw their opponents hit the post with a penalty and have an equaliser six minutes from time wiped out for offside. Birmingham rattled the woodwork a second time and had an effort cleared off the line, while the non-leaguers' goalkeeper Kevin Rose made a string of fine saves.

But with Kidderminster's goal living its charmed life, up stepped the phone system salesman to steal the headlines.

Jon Purdie appeared in the fifth round for Oxford at Old Trafford - where he admits he froze in a 4-0 defeat. But it was Birmingham's hearts he turned to ice in the 64th minute.

From an innocuous position outside the area the 26- year-old who joined Arsenal in the same intake as Merson, Adams and Rocastle, dipped a shoulder to make some room, and cracked a drive in at the left-hand corner, the keeper Ian Bennett brushing it with his fingertips.

'A fitting goal to win any Cup tie,' Fry said generously. 'He has been threatening one of those all season but normally they sail out of the ground,' said the hod-carrying centre- half Chris Brindley, who was with Purdie at Wolves.

The dream of a fourth- round place seemed far off when Paul Harding's rising drive put Birmingham into a ninth-minute lead.

Kevin Rose, a veteran of four League clubs, notably Hereford, where he made 350 appearances, made a fine save to keep out Andy Saville's near- post header, but suddenly Kidderminster were level. The left- back Paul Bancroft crossed from the byline for Neil Cartwright, once a West Bromwich Albion reserve, to head in from close range.

Rose made two more fine saves, and watched Saville's 48th-minute penalty thump against his right-hand upright, as Birmingham laboured to make their superior status tell.

But Purdie worked his magic, and Harriers survived a frantic final quarter to ensure they were laughing all the way into today's draw.