Paul Jewell, under renewed pressure after Ipswich's fourth successive Championship defeat, vented his wrath on referee's assistant Amy Fearn after his side were denied “a stonewall penalty” before Nikola Zigic's stoppage-time winner left Birmingham two points off the play-off zone with a game in hand.
Jewell was asked about referee Rob Lewis' failure to award a spot-kick when Lee Martin fell under Steven Caldwell's 81st-minute challenge. "Everyone, to a man, thought it was a penalty. Unfortunately, to a man, but not a woman," the Ipswich manager replied, words that might land him in disciplinary trouble. "Although the referee didn't have a good view, the lineswoman, or whatever she's called, did. It was a stonewall penalty and a sending off. I asked [Lewis] at the end but there's a wall of silence."
While Ipswich were justified in feeling aggrieved, Jewell's criticism of Ms Fearn appeared ill-judged. The incident took place in a central position near the penalty spot, with the referee well positioned. To blame one of his assistants was at best unfair.
The former Derby manager's frustration was compounded by the manner as much as the timing of Birmingham's second goal. Like the first it stemmed from Ipswich's inability to defend a long throw-in by David Murphy. The full-back's delivery scarcely carries the menace of, say, Rory Delap's missiles, but amid the panic it caused, Zigic turned the ball into the net.
Of the 33 goals Birmingham have scored in the Championship, 13 have come in the final 10 minutes, the division's highest total. Ipswich, meanwhile, have shipped the most goals in the final 15 minutes, Zigic's decisive thrust being the 13th of the 49 they have now conceded. The giant Serb, who doubled his season's tally on the night, struck first in the ninth minute. Following a Murphy throw, his header clipped the far post before crossing the line to give Ipswich goalkeeper Alex McCarthy a torrid start to his spell on loan from Reading.
Martin swiftly equalised, his stunning 22-yard shot tearing past Boaz Myhill. Although Marlon King shook the visitors' goal-frame with a volley there were few chances until Zigic pounced to leave victorious manager Chris Hughton wishing "every game could start at 75 minutes".
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Myhill (Doyle, 46); Spector, Davies, Caldwell, David Murphy; Burke, Gomis (Mutch, 82), Fahey, Beausejour (Redmond, 73); King, Zigic. Substitutes not used Ridgewell, Rooney.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): McCarthy; Edwards, Sonko, Smith, Cresswell; Martin, Leadbitter, Drury, Daryl Murphy; Emmanuel-Thomas (Ellington, 74), Scotland (Chopra, 79). Substitutes not used Lee-Barrett (gk), Carson, Ainsley.
Referee R Lewis (Shropshire).