Football: Rowett rubs in Grimsby misery

Grimsby Town 0 Birmingham City 3 Ndlovu 36 Adebola 85 Rowett 90 Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 7,807
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The Independent Online
BIRMINGHAM CITY have long looked capable of closing on the second automatic promotion place from the Nationwide First Division and this victory moved them within four points of it. But they took their time to impose themselves on a game Grimsby side and it took goals in the last five minutes from Dele Adebola and Gary Rowett to make sure of the points at Blundell Park.

A 25-yard strike by the Zimbabwean international Peter Ndlovu gave Birmingham the lead at the interval after a tight first half and it was tough on Grimsby to find themselves behind at the break. The substitute Adebola broke clear five minutes from time before side-footing confidently past Aidan Davison, and then in injury time Rowett rose at the near post to thump home an unstoppable header from a Bryan Hughes corner.

In a first-half in which Grimsby created the better chances, Birmingham stole the advantage in the 36th minute through Ndlovu, who twisted and turned before unleashing a low shot. It took a slight deflection and flew into the bottom corner past the apparently unsighted Grimsby goalkeeper, Aidan Davison, who went down late to try to cover the strike.

The best of the chances fell to Lee Ashcroft in the 25th minute when Grimsby's record signing rose to meet a cross by Kingsley Black with a powerful header, but Kevin Poole in the Birmingham goal produced a fine save.

Lee Nogan twice shot wide for Grimsby and, just before half-time, Kevin Donovan cut in from the right and fizzed a left-foot shot just past the post with Poole beaten. Earlier, the full-back Tony Gallimore had curled a free-kick just over the Birmingham bar, while Stacy Coldicott volleyed over from 12 yards out as the Mariners created the majority of their chances from set pieces.

Grimsby's manager, Alan Buckley, sent on the striker Daryl Clare and the midfielder Wayne Burnett for the second half but it was still from set-pieces that they threatened the most. Black came within inches of equalising when his curling strike over the wall beat Poole in the 79th minute, but flashed the wrong side of the post.

But Birmingham had chances on the break and Davison had to be at his best to deny Hughes when the midfielder went through on goal, and substitute Nicky Forster came close when his header just cleared the bar.

l Sheffield United bounced back from their mid-week FA Cup defeat at Arsenal with a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Carrow Road. Paul Devlin's 55th- minute deflected shot put the Blades level after Chris Llewellyn had opened the scoring for Norwich midway through the first half. The home side thought they had taken all three points in the 87th minute when David Holdsworth headed into his own net but the referee had spotted some pushing.

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