Birmingham City 3 Wigan Athletic 2: Kapo double calms Birmingham's takeover turmoil

By David Instone at St Andrews
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The Independent Online

Olivier Kapo's emphatic late strike has lifted at least some of the unease hanging over Birmingham City. The French international's second goal of an unexpectedly compelling contest improved not only his side's Premier League survival prospects but also the mood at last night's talks between the club's owner-in-waiting Carson Yeung, the manager Steve Bruce and his board.

Bonhomie round the table had not always looked likely, with Marcus Bent twice putting Wigan Athletic ahead and the Hong Kong businessman on the receiving end of a warning shot across the bows from David Sullivan, the man behind whom he celebrated in the directors' box at full-time.

Sullivan saw fit to remind Yeung in the programme that the delay in completing a takeover wouldn't be allowed to stretch "a single day" past the Christmas deadline.

"I cannot believe that Carson and his group do not realise how damaging their actions are for BCFC," wrote Sullivan, mindful of the wait for Bruce to be given a new contract.

The play, despite the poor recent form of both teams, was surprisingly carefree. After Cameron Jerome had squandered a couple of chances and Paul Scharner had impeded the better-placed Jason Koumas from one of Antonio Valencia's dangerous runs on the right, goals became like Gary Megson job offers, with two arriving almost at once.

A long ball by the former Birmingham full-back Mario Melchiot cut an alarming swathe through the centre of the home defence for Bent to race yards clear of Liam Ridgewell to lash past the advancing Maik Taylor.

Chris Kirkland pushed over Daniel De Ridder's angled free-kick before the Dutchman's right-wing corner led to a 26th minute equaliser. Scharner foolishly raised his arm as Franck Queudrue headed goalwards, referee Steve Tanner awarding a penalty that Kapo rolled in.

Bruce, on record as saying he is uncertain of his job prospects under Yeung, disappeared up the tunnel as the kick was taken and said: "It's a superstition. I'm not keen to watch them because we usually miss. Olivier said he was happy to take one but I was not totally convinced."

De Ridder, making his first Premier League start, did no such hiding and cut on to his left foot for a shot that had Kirkland beaten. Birmingham then made life unnecessarily difficult for themselves by handing the lead back to Wigan just before the hour. Melchiot crossed from in yards of space on the right, Stephen Kelly hampered the efforts of his keeper to gather and Bent poked it in.

Again, the response was swift. Following more Jerome wastefulness, De Ridder's right-wing corner was well won in the air by Rafael Schmitz and turned home by the captain Ridgewell.

Birmingham went in front for the first time when Kapo deliciously fired home left-footed from the edge of the area following Mehdi Nafti's pass six minutes from time – a deserved winner that leaves Wigan with two points out of 24.

"To be in the lead twice and get nothing is hard to take," their manager Chris Hutchings, said. "We're bitterly disappointed."

Bruce was more upbeat as he set off for the big meeting. "For the sake of the club, we have to draw a line under this business and have a bit of clarity," he said. "Hopefully it will take it on to the next step and, whether that's with or without me, I'll abide by the decision."

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