Birmingham vs West Brom report: Victor Anichebe scores twice as Baggies sink Blues in Midlands derby

Birmingham City 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

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The last time these Midlands rivals met in the FA Cup – in the 1968 semi-final at Villa Park– the winners, West Bromwich Albion, went on to lift the trophy. Albion have not been back to the final since and while it would be premature to predict an end to that 47-year wait, they are certainly gathering momentum nicely under Tony Pulis.

This hard-fought victory made it four games unbeaten under Pulis and ensured Albion’s appearance in the fifth-round draw for the first time in five years, as Victor Anichebe delivered the kind of centre-forward display that may just solve one of the problems Pulis faces.

The Albion manager has expressed his wish to sign a striker more than once but Anichebe rose to the challenge of filling the role of powerful attacking spearhead that every Pulis team needs. The muscular Liverpudlian has been dogged by doubts about his fitness and temperament throughout his career but yesterday he looked a player reinvigorated, leading the line impressively and scoring the two decisive first-half goals.

“With Victor I don’t think anybody has ever questioned his ability, but the big thing is keeping him fit,” Pulis said. “He is still nowhere near but if you got him to that level, he would be a handful as in the first half he was unplayable at times.”

Anichebe’s first goal came after 25 minutes when Saido Berahino slipped a pass in to the big striker on the left side of the box and he beat Darren Randolph with a precise first-time shot in off the near post.

Ten minutes later the 26-year-old had his second goal when, from another Berahino pass, he used his powerful frame to hold off Paul Robinson in the box before turning and scoring with a bobbling shot.

To their credit, Birmingham, playing in front of their first full house since May 2012, responded with the lifeline of a Jonathan Grounds goal in first-half injury time. The full-back concluded a fine passing move by steering debutant Lloyd Dyer’s low centre in off the far post.

“The goal changed the whole momentum of the game,” Gary Rowett, the home manager, said.

“The second-half performance was as good as we’ve played this season The keeper’s made two or three excellent saves and we just ran out of time at the end.”

Birmingham are a club reborn since October, when Rowett replaced Lee Clark, and although it took a brilliant one-handed Randolph save to keep out Joleon Lescott’s header on the restart, the spirited Championship side dominated thereafter.

 The impressive Andy Shinnie headed inches over while substitute goalkeeper Ben Foster – who had to come on after Boaz Myhill suffered a cut to his right hand – made two fingertip saves from shots by the lively Birmingham substitute Demerai Gray.

“We had to be resilient and defend well,” Pulis said. “It was a proper old-fashioned cup tie.”

Birmingham City: (4-2-3-1) Randolph; Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds; Davis (Thomas 86), Gleeson; Cotterill, Shinnie, Dyer (Gray 70); Novak (Zigic 75).

West Bromwich Albion: (4-2-3-1) Myhill (Foster 62); Wisdom, McAuley, Dawson, Lescott; Brunt, Yacob; Gardner, Berahino, Sessegnon (Baird 68), Anichebe (Ideye 81)

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Anichebe (West Brom)

Match rating: 7/10