Mind power fuels rise of Birmingham

Everton 1 Birmingham City 2

Birmingham City did it again on Saturday. They confounded the pre-season doom-mongers, they showed they are a team whose whole is vastly greater than the sum of its parts and they again underlined what a dangerous, if unexpected, threat they are proving to be this term.

Alex McLeish has inspired his side to eighth in the Premier League and now also into the fifth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-1 away victory over Everton that was entirely merited.

They have gone 15 matches unbeaten since they last lost against Arsenal on 17 October and that run has lifted spirits and confidence in McLeish's squad to an almost unprecedented degree. "Belief has a powerful impact in a dressing room and these players should realise the power they've now got," McLeish said. "Individually, you can have one or two mavericks in a team who can win you games, but they won't win you as many games as when you've got a dressing room as full of the power that I've got in mine."

McLeish can call upon the perfect combination of perspiration and inspiration from his players and both were on display as Birmingham scored two wonderfully worked first-half goals to leave a puzzlingly abject Everton with too much to do.

After just seven minutes, Christian Benitez headed a bouncing cross from Keith Fahey past Tim Howard after Barry Ferguson had found Fahey on the wing at the end of a 40 metre run that had seen him untouched by a single Everton tackle

It was an early and ominous example of the home side's ineptitude and they were simply awful in the first half, a clueless shambles whose only tactic was to punt the ball forward.

The hammer blow to Everton fell just before half-time when the teamwork seen in Benitez's goal was nothing compared with the brilliant manner in which Birmingham doubled their advantage.

Fahey brought Sebastian Larsson into play on the right wing and although his cross looked poor, Ferguson created something from nothing when he dummied and stepped over the ball, received a wonderful pass back from James McFadden and curled past Howard in the blink of an eye.

Leon Osman scored a 56th-minute goal for Everton which breathed some hope into their afternoon and Mikel Arteta also made a second-half showing after 11 months out with a knee injury but they proved to be minor fillips. Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini missed four good chances between them towards the end but it was not to be, much to David Moyes' chagrin.

He said: "We are out of the cup and that's the lesson. The cup does that to you, you don't get a second chance to correct it. I think you have to give Birmingham a lot of credit. We were too poor in the first half to stand a chance."

Everton (4-5-1): Howard; Neville, Distin, Heitinga, Baines; Donovan (Arteta, 76), Pienaar, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov (Osman, h-t), Cahill; Saha (Vaughan, 69). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Coleman, Duffy, Baxter

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Hart; Carr, R Johnson, Dann Ridgewell; Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, Fahey; McFadden (McSheffrey, 89), Benitez (Jervis, 79). Substitutes not used: Maik Taylor (gk), Madera, Queudrue, D Johnson, Vignal

Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Booked: Everton Osman, Cahill.

Man of the match: Ferguson.

Attendance: 30,875.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy