Birmingham came here last night with no away win this season and no Lee Bowyer. They left with one of those but not the other, and while they will have to wait to get Bowyer back, manager Alex McLeish will not have cared one jot about his absence after this potentially season-changing win.
An impromptu winter break for Blackpool meant this was their first home game since 20 November, which coincidence dictated was also the date of Birmingham's last League victory – their 1-0 home success over Chelsea.
Playing at St Andrew's and playing away have been two entirely different propositions for Birmingham this season – before last night they were without a victory on their travels since last March – but Scott Dann's 89th-minute winner lifted them out of the relegation places. "I'm absolutely delighted to win and mostly because it was away from home," McLeish said. "It means people will stop asking about the away record. It is only one [win] in six months yet it is three valuable points."
Early on, Matt Derbyshire and Cameron Jerome both missed open goals as Birmingham played with more ambition than they had on the rest of their travels combined this season. They took the lead after 24 minutes when Stephen Crainey got in a tangle near his own penalty area and passed straight to Alexander Hleb who had only the task of beating Richard Kingson, which he managed with aplomb.
Blackpool got stronger as the game went on as Matt Phillips, DJ Campbell and Charlie Adam all created – and missed – priceless chances.
Campbell equalised after 68 minutes with a goal that was as stunning as it was simple. A Neal Eardley cross was headed down by Gary Taylor-Fletcher into the striker's path and he volleyed in.
Hleb was then denied a blatant penalty before Adam hit the post from 30 yards with 15 minutes left, but the feeling the game still had a goal in it was duly confirmed when Dann profited from a Blackpool lapse right at the end.
"That's the way it goes," Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, said afterwards."I'm devastated because if it had finished 1-1 I would have taken that because they are a good side."
Blackpool (4-3-3): Kingson; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Vaughan, Campbell, Adam; Phillips (Ormerod, 71) Varney (Southern, 81), Taylor-Fletcher (Euell, 71). Substitutes not used Rachubka, Baptiste, Sylvestre, Edwards.
Birmingham City (4-4-2) Foster; Carr, Dann, Johnson, Ridgwell; Hleb (Phillips, 82), Ferguson, Gardner, Fahey (Larsson, 57); Jerome, Derbyshire (Beausejour, 77). Substitutes not used Taylor, Zigic, Parnaby, Jiranek.
Referee J Moss (W Yorkshire).
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