Cardiff tighten title grip as Mason delivers historic win
Birmingham City 0 Cardiff City 1
Tuesday 01 January 2013
Cardiff extended their lead to seven points at the top of the Championship table with their first victory at Birmingham in 46 years.
Recalled striker Joe Mason scored the only goal of the game in the 41st minute, following up from close range after Jack Butland's parried save from Craig Conway had taken a fortuitous bounce.
Cardiff, now with nine wins in their last 11 games, entered the new year holding a five-point advantage at the summit and knowing the team leading the pile at the same stage in each of the last seven seasons has been promoted.
"It has been a tough period but we have momentum and consistency," said manager Malky Mackay.
"To come away with the 10th clean sheet for the season was outstanding and we were very comfortable in the second half."
Despite a creditable performance from Birmingham, they have won just twice in their last 11 games and are four points above the relegation zone with big names in danger of being sold to ease the club's financial struggles.
The hosts started with no out-and-out striker on the pitch due to severe injury and suspension problems which worsened in the pre-match warm-up when midfielder Hayden Mullins pulled out.
The opening quarter was lively, Birmingham's Nathan Redmond testing David Marshall from the edge of the penalty area in the 20th minute.
Yet further injury misery arrived for Birmingham manager Lee Clark just after the half-hour mark as Callum Reilly, a late replacement for Mullins, was also forced off. The move disrupted the team's rhythm, and Cardiff took the lead in the 41st minute.
Conway's strike from long range was parried downwards by Butland and the ball took an unfortunate bounce off his arm before Mason tapped in. Clark said: "We deserved something from the game. The goal we gave away was very unfortunate. It is horrible all the performances were very good, against a team which is going to get promoted.
"The only point I made to the players was that in the second half we didn't pull the trigger as we tried to walk the ball into the net."
Birmingham City Butland, Packwood (Hancox, 77), Caldwell, Davies, Robinson, Hall, Spector, Reilly (Gomis, 32), Elliott (Jervis, 70), Redmond, Morrison. Substitutes not used Doyle, Ibanez, Burke, Gomis, Jervis, Henry-Francis.
Cardiff City Marshall, Connolly, Hudson, Turner, Lappin, Conway, Gunnarsson, Mutch (Cowie, 51), Kim (Noone, 67), Mason (Gestede, 70), Bellamy. Substitutes not used Lewis, McNaughton, Ralls, Helguson.
Referee R Madley (West Yorkshire).
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Besiktas: Seven reasons why Arsenal could suffer a Champions League upset
Manchester United transfer news: Is Angel Di Maria really worth £59.7m?
MK Dons vs Manchester United League Cup match report: Louis van Gaal is humiliated after Jonny Evans' error sparks drubbing
Fernando Torres: Chelsea striker insisting on permanent AC Milan deal - reports
Angel Di Maria to Manchester United: Winger was once sold for 35 footballs - now it's £60m
- 1 Rice Bucket Challenge: India's take on the Ice Bucket Challenge 'for Indian needs'
- 2 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 Rubble Bucket Challenge: Ice Bucket Challenge adapted in solidarity with Gazans whose homes have been destroyed in conflict
- 5 Teenager dies after suspected ice bucket challenge goes horribly wrong
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Air strikes? Talk of God? Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script after James Foley beheading