Plymouth Argyle 0 Birmingham City 1: Jaidi capitalises on the security given by Taylor

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The Independent Online

The Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce, will take time and thought before selecting his side to play Liverpool in the League Cup at St Andrew's on Wednesday night. Following their fourth successive win and fourth Championship clean sheet, Bruce made no bones about his priority.

The City manager said: "I am not even contemplating going back up [to the Premiership] at the moment. We're just on a bit of a roll. But it's a hell of a decision to make for the cup tie now. We have got Liverpool in midweek, so my thoughts are the most important thing for me is the League.

"The League is very important." Birmingham are fourth in the Championship and Bruce was delighted with this "muck and nettles" result at Plymouth, where City had to soak up almost constant pressure before countering to snatch victory through the Tunisian defender Radhi Jaidi in the 75th minute.

The Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor was in top form for City, taking every corner that came his way in big, safe hands. It was an irony not lost on the Plymouth manager, Ian Holloway, that his side conceded from a corner.

Initially, Argyle's Northern Ireland left-back Tony Capaldi - a City player before joining Plymouth in 2003 - made a superb goal-line clearance to deny the Birmingham midfielder Stephen Clemence from substitute Sebastian Larsson's flag kick from the left.

From Gary McSheffrey's corner from the right, Jaidi headed his first goal for the Blues since joining them from Bolton on a free transfer in the summer to end Argyle's seven-match unbeaten streak.

Holloway said: "When you give someone like Jaidi a free header, what can you do? Their keeper came out and took too many of our corners and they have scored from one of theirs.

"I felt we were absolutely terrific today. I am proud of my players. Birmingham are a big club aiming for the Premiership and I don't think we are far off them.

City's former Tottenham Hotspur right-back Stephen Kelly was part of back five that turned in a five-star performance to keep Plymouth at bay.

"The team were there [in the Premiership] last season and we are hungry for it again," he said. "We just want to keep this run going and see where we end up at the end of the season.

"We knew we had to work really hard to get the result but to come to a a place like this and they are doing really well in the League, we had to grind out but it is another great win for us.

"We soaked up a lot of pressure. I thought we defended exceptionally well, we really did, everyone in the back four was really up to the game and really determined.

"That was our fourth clean sheet which is absolutely fantastic," Kelly added, "especially in a League like this - you need to keep clean sheets and then go on to win it.

"You know we have really being do well lately and let's hope it continues.

"Maik Taylor was exceptional. His positional play was just fantastic. When a goalkeeper comes and takes every corner from the air you know it's a relief for a defender.

"He's not dropping it around, it's not bouncing in the box so you can do your job with confidence.

"That's what Maik did. Every corner, every free-kick, he came and claimed and was dominant. There's nothing better for a defender when a goalkeeper plays like that. Everything he did was spot-on."

Goal: Jaidi (75).

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): McCormick; Connolly, Seip, Aljofree, Capaldi; Norris, Wotton, Nalis (Summerfield, 88), Buzsaky (Djordjic, 74); Hayles, Chadwick (Ebanks-Blake, 62). Substitutes not used: Larrieu, Sawyer.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Kelly, Jaidi, Martin Taylor, Sadler; Danns (Larsson, 58), Muamba, Clemence (Nafti, 88), McSheffrey; Jerome (Gray, 69), Bendtner. Substitutes not used: Doyle, Campbell.

Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Birmingham Muamba, Jerome, Clemence.

Man of the match: Maik Taylor.

Attendance: 17,008.

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