Crossley keeps Blues at bay
By Rob Haley
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
One goal in Fulham's favour was enough to put Birmingham out of the Carling Cup.
One goal in Fulham's favour was enough to put Birmingham out of the Carling Cup, but it could have been different had it not been for Mark Crossley's superb performance.
A closely fought game was separated by the right boot of Mark Pembridge midway through the second half.
It was a slow start at St Andrews but Birmingham's home advantage was apparent as they began to build the pressure against Fulham in the early stages.
Blues had some exceptional link up play down the right-hand side between Kenny Cunningham and Jesper Gronkjaer, but Zat Knight was instrumental in keeping Blues from advancing further.
Crossley's was instrumental in the win and his excellent reaction save from Gronkjaer's fierce right footed shot kept the scores level.
Gronkjaer had been getting the better of Fulham's defence using his blistering speed to his advantage.
Darren Anderton picked out one of Gronkjaer's runs and the Dane put in a wicked low cross which just evaded Julian Gray.
Just five minutes before half time it looked as if it could be the end of the game for Crossley who collided with Emile Heskey who was playing with a bandaged hand.
Crossley came out of the collision worst and looked as if he might have picked up an injury to his shoulder, but he battled on.
Fulham started well after the break, Luis Boa Morte was able to supply a lovely cross from the left-hand side but it failed to find its target.
However, Birmingham were resilient and Gray looked as if he was going to tip the balance.
A perfect ball from the right found Gray who side footed the ball with his left foot just outside the six-yard box but once again Crossley was positioned ideally.
At the other end Cole's through ball reached Jensen who was at full stretch.
His stab at the ball was not enough to pass Maik Taylor's fingers but did cause a strain to Jensen who was replaced by Collins John.
Fulham's pressure finally paid off half way through the second half when Pembridge blasted the ball with his right foot into the top corner, a spectacular strike from outside the area.
Birmingham did not give up and kept the pressure on with a couple of changes but were unable to force extra time.