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.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
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

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas