Zigic makes giant leap to acceptance with late winner

Birmingham City 1 Stoke City 0

Birmingham fans hoped to see the explosively talented Obafemi Martins help their side overcome their aversion to scoring goals yet for the second time in a week it was their much-derided summer signing Nikola Zigic whocame up with the winning contribution.

The 6ft 6in Serb, whose skimpy goals record so far must have added permanency to furrows in Alex McLeish's brow, came up with a second-half deadlock-breaker at West Ham last Sunday and did the trick again as Birmingham achieved back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time in 14 months.

Given that he had not played for two months before completing his loan signing from the Russian champions Rubin Kazan, Martins competed gamely enough against the physical challenges Stoke invariably put in a striker's way. It will not be long before he begins to make an impact.

Certainly not as long as Zigic has taken. McLeish's£6 million buy from Valencia has struggled to adapt not only to the frantic pace of English football but to the first requirement of a striker of his height that he be good in the air. The Birmingham manager knows he must do more in that respect, but feels he is at last making progress.

"In the League he came from he was used to playing the ball on the ground and most of his goals have been scored with his feet," McLeish said. "I've kept telling him he needed to be more aggressive and in the second half today I thoughthe was."

The decisive moment could not have come much later – three minutes into stoppage time. Stoke, for whom the absence of an injured Matthew Etherington robbed them of natural width, thought they had done enough for a point. But when Asmir Begovic spilled a shot from David Bentley at his near post, the Birmingham substitute, Cameron Jerome, touched the ball away from him and hooked it back into the six-yard box, where Zigic nodded home. It was only his seventh for the club, but his third in as many games.

Otherwise, the reputation St Andrew's has acquired as the least entertaining ground in the Premier League would have been preserved. The stadium had witnessed only 25 goals this season, fewer than any other venue, and Zigic's goal rescued this game from the fate it deserved after 90 uninspiring minutes on a sticky, bumpy pitch.

Chances were few, mistakes many. McLeish and Tony Pulis, his opposite number, took turns shaking their heads or throwing their arms towards the sky. But, as McLeish regularly points out, goals change games and Birmingham are three points clear of the bottom three.

Attendance: 23,660

Referee: Mark Halsey

Man of the match: Ferguson

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?