'Genius' Hleb leads the way to finish off Dons in four minutes

Birmingham City 3 Milton Keynes Dons 1

Alex Mcleish's gamble of fielding nine understudies reaped a rich dividend when Birmingham City scored three times in four minutes to leave Milton Keynes Dons facing a hopeless task to reach the fourth round of the Carling Cup at St Andrew's last night.

Alexander Hleb, Nikola Zigic and Craig Gardner all scored in rapid succession, although the Dons, lying fourth in League One and making their first visit to a Premier League ground, were a credit to the English game's youngest manager, 30-year-old Karl Robinson, and deserved their late reply by Aaron Wilbraham.

McLeish was especially pleased to see Hleb, the Belarussian who is on a season-long loan from Barcelona, and Serbia striker Zigic, his £6m summer signing, open their accounts for Birmingham. "It was a wee change in terms of our scoring exploits," the Birmingham manager said. "In that spell we were really clinical. Zigic is adjusting to the pace of the game here. It's very quick, and even the aerial stuff, for a guy who is 6ft 8in, is new to him."

Some of the performances, notably that of Chilean winger Jean Beausejour, gave McLeish "food for thought" with regard to his selection plans for the visit of Wigan at the weekend. Beausejour is natural wide player, able to beat his man on the outside and with an accurate line in crosses, Birmingham's first two goals stemming from his wiles on the left.

Robinson was magnanimous in defeat, hailing the "genius" of Hleb and noting: "That's why he has played for Arsenal and Barcelona." The Dons' manager added: "My team showed a passion and their love for the game shone through, but we had chances and didn't take them whereas they took theirs. That's why they're in the Premier League. But if we can play as well as that against a team from the top division, we can cause a lot of damage at our level."

The Dons had looked comfortable until midway through the first half. Then Birmingham midfielder Michel pulled up injured, to be replaced by Gardner, and within a minute the goal rush had begun. Gardner's first touch fed Beausejour on the edge of the penalty area, from where he spotted Hleb near the opposite angle of the box. A sliderule pass invited an equally precise finish, Hleb's first goal in English football since 2007.

Two minutes later, Beausejour's cross reached the six-yard area, where Zigic stole in behind the centre-backs to side-foot home. Two minutes later the Dons' collapse accelerated when Gardner was given time and space before finding the right-hand corner of the net with a left-footed shot from 20 yards.

The Dons, backed by 1,200 followers, secured the goal their approach merited when Wilbraham's angled shot beat Maik Taylor with 10 minutes remaining.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Taylor; Parnaby, Johnson , Jiranek, Murphy; Fahey, Michel (Gardner, 23), Hleb (Phillips, 66), Beausejour (Valles, 58); Derbyshire, Zigic. Substitutes not used Foster (gk), Ridgewell, Jerome, Redmond.

MK Dons (4-4-1-1): Martin; Woodards, O'Hanlon (Mackenzie, h-t), Doumbe, Lewington; Guy, Carrington, Leven, Balanta (Ibehre, 29); Chadwick; Easter (Wilbraham, 64). Substitutes not used Searle (gk), Baldock, Howell, Chicksen.

Man of the match Gardner

Referee S Attwell (S Yorkshire)

Attendance 9,4503

Match rating 7/10.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits