Jerome beats Potters at their own game
Stoke City 0 Birmingham City 1
Tuesday 29 December 2009
Birmingham's days continue to be merry and bright. A combination of Cameron Jerome's fourth goal of the season and Joe Hart's saving grace in the face of Stoke's second-half barrage stretched their unbeaten run to 11 games, equalling the club's best in the top flight since 1907-08.
Yesterday's victory took them to 32 points, just eight short of the putative safety mark. Indeed, their followers departed singing: "We're all going on a European tour." Birmingham, impressively marshalled by Barry Ferguson, are now in seventh place, with a £40m war chest from new owner Carson Yeung at Alex McLeish's disposal in a few days' time. Stoke, who have won once in nine matches and remain the division's lowest scorers with 15 goals from 19 games, face a fight for survival unless they can find a finisher when the transfer window reopens.
The meaningful action was condensed into an eight-minute period soon after half-time. First, Stoke were hoist by their own petard, conceding from a set-piece. James McFadden's corner was headed on by Scott Dann, striking Ryan Shawcross before falling obligingly to Jerome, who swivelled and turned the ball in off Thomas Sorensen's body at point-blank range.
As Stoke piled forward in search of an equaliser, Hart sprung one way to claw Liam Lawrence's corner off the head of James Beattie, then dived in the opposite direction to keep out Matthew Etherington's fierce volley.
McLeish talked of an "awesome achievement" by his players, especially after the energy they expended in holding leaders Chelsea 48 hours earlier. Yet he remained reluctant to tempt providence, adding: "The sooner we get to 40 points the better." Asked where he thought that the 22-year-old Hart, with one England cap, ought to be ranked among the keepers in the elite division, McLeish grinned. "About 10th." Why so low? "Because we want to get him on a cheap deal."
Tony Pulis, his Stoke counterpart, bemoaned referee Martin Atkinson's failure to spot Stephen Carr's tug on Robert Huth in the second half. "He wrestles him to the ground," Pulis said. "As blatant a penalty as you'll see."
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Huth, Shawcross, Ab Faye, Higginbotham; Lawrence (Sidibe, 82), Delap, Whitehead, Etherington; Beattie (Fuller, 70), Tuncay. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Cort, Pugh, Am Faye, Collins.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Hart; Carr, R Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Larsson (Fahey, 77), Ferguson, Bowyer, McFadden; Benitez, Jerome. Substitutes not used: Maik Taylor (gk), Phillips, McSheffrey, D Johnson, Carsley, Vignal.
Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Stoke City Delap, Shawcross; Birmingham City Bowyer, Carr, Jerome.
Man of the match: Hart.
Latest in Sport
Mayweather-Pacquiao: Ricky Hatton, Mike Tyson, Ronda Rousey and more make their predictions
Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
Kyle Walker video: Tottenham defender categorically denies 'disgusting' rumours on Facebook
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Arsenal transfer targets: The summer signings that would please Thierry Henry, including Sami Khedira and Edinson Cavani
- 1 The scientist who takes 100 drugs a day so he can live to 150
- 2 The Visit: Trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film is terrifying
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds