Southampton 1 Birmingham City 2: Phillips drives home another three points in selection fight

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The Independent Online

On the day Team GB secured a record-breaking four gold medals in Beijing one golden-oldie footballer continued his goalscoring exploits in a Birmingham shirt on the south coast in Southampton.

Kevin Phillips may be 35 years old and close to picking up his footballer's pension book but he possesses that uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time when it comes to putting the ball in the onion bag.

Phillips, who last weekend came off the bench to hit a last-minute winner against Sheffield United, just happened to be standing on the goal line 50 seconds after coming on as Marcus Bent's mistimed header came down off the bar and the inevitable happened.

So that's two goals in about 30 minutes action that has given the Blues six priceless points in their quest to make a double-quick return to the top division which must make all West Bromwich Albion fans shudder at the crazy decision by the board not to give this goal machine a two-year contract.

Phillips is not happy playing these bit parts for his new club and he confessed afterwards: "It's so frustrating, but all I can do is when I get a little chance when I come on, I take it. We have five excellent centre-forwards competing for two places and I'm trying to give the manager [Alex McLeish] a headache and and I don't think I've done my case any harm by scoring two goals in the last two Championship games.

"I had a lot of offers from other clubs in the summer but I decided to join Birmingham because with a two-year contract I still have a chance to play in the Premier League," he added. "At this stage in my career I don't want to be sitting on the bench, I just want to be out there on the pitch playing football because I don't have a lot of those moments left."

His close-range bundled effort was enough to send Southampton crashing to their second league defeat thus undermining manager Jan Poortvliet's efforts to introduce total Dutch football to a club that is in total freefall.

Poortvliet, who was signed on a meagre contract in the summer, has had to stand back quietly while his employers sell off and loan out the crown jewels in the desperate attempt to cut down the £6m debt. For the second week in a row he watched his young team flatter to deceive when Chris Perry gave the Saints the lead just before half-time with a belting header before Garry O'Connor inspired the Blues fightback with a 49th-minute leveller.

Goals: Perry (43) 1-0; O'Connor (49) 1-1; Phillips (77) 1-2.

Southampton (4-5-1): Davis; James, Svensson, Perry, Surman; Holmes, Schneiderlin, McGoldrick, Lallana, Gillett; John (Thomson, 69). Substitutes not used: Bialkowski (gk), Wotton, Lancashire, Mills.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Parnaby, Martin Taylor, Ridgewell, Murphy; Nafti (Jerome, 37), Larsson, Carsley, Owusu-Abeyie (Phillips, 76); O'Connor (Bent, 65), McFadden. Substitutes not used: Doyle (gk), Kelly.

Referee: Clive Penton (Sussex).

Man of the match Phillips.

Attendance: 18,925.

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