Blues march on at top
Kevin Phillips and Garry O'Connor netted first-half goals as Birmingham recorded a 2-0 win over Barnsley.
Last Updated: 23/08/08 5:42pm
Kevin Phillips and Garry O'Connor netted first-half goals as Birmingham City recorded a 2-0 home win over Barnsley.
Veteran striker Phillips, who had also been wanted by Barnsley over the summer, marked his first Championship start for Blues with the opener.
And Scotland international O'Connor grabbed the second to maintain Birmingham's 100 per cent start to the season, while Barnsley are still without a point.
The Tykes started brightly with Diego Leon's free-kick nearly causing an early upset, but Birmingham soon settled into their stride with O'Connor's overhead kick and Phillips' close-range header almost finding the net.
Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele had to be alert to tip Stuart Parnaby's effort around a post, but it was not long before the hosts made the crucial breakthrough.
The impressive Parnaby created some space down the right-hand side and delivered a teasing cross for Phillips to leave his marker and head home into the top corner from six yards.
James McFadden continued to look lively for Blues and created a series of chances for himself, but none of which seriously threatened to increase Birmingham's advantage.
Alex McLeish's injury problems at right-back continued as Parnaby was replaced by the returning Stephen Kelly after 36 minutes, before Leon rattled the woodwork.
But O'Connor gave Birmingham some breathing space just before the half-time whistle, capitalising on more hapless Barnsley defending to head past Steele and put the hosts firmly in control.
And the shackles were well and truly off at the start of the second half as both sides rained shots goalwards - Brian Howard and Sebastian Larsson coming closest to finding the net.
Both sides continued to try their luck from distance as the half wore on, with little in the way of clear goalscoring chances being created.
Lee Carsley fired an effort straight at Steele from 30 yards while McFadden also unleashed another shot wide of the target.
But it was left to Steele to produce more heroics late on with another fine save to deny substitute Gary McSheffrey as the clash came to an end.