Phillips wins it for Blues
Kevin Phillips won all three points for Birmingham after scoring within a minute of coming on as a substitute against Southampton.
By Ashley Marshall
Last Updated: 16/08/08 9:55pm
Super sub Kevin Phillips silenced the boos that greeted his arrival at St Mary's by poking home the winner less than a minute after coming on the pitch.
Phillips' second dramatic goal in as many games saw the Blues to a 2-1 win away at Southampton, after his injury-time strike stole the points from Sheffield United last weekend.
It took just 50 seconds this time for Phillips to make his presence felt as he proved to be in the right place at the right time to hand Birmingham a narrow victory.
The veteran striker, signed on a free transfer from local rivals West Brom this summer, lashed home from close range in the 77th minute to extend Blues' unbeaten start to the season and continue his red-hot form to the new campaign.
The visitors' set-piece jinx came back to haunt them towards the end of the first half as Saints defender Chris Perry rose unmarked to connect with Lee Holmes' corner and register his first goal in red and white colours.
But after Garry O'Connor drew Birmingham level in a hard-fought Championship encounter it was up to Phillips to come to their rescue and prove once again why he is one of the best strikers in England's second tier.
The Blues started the early exchanges the more impressive of the two sides, although John had a header rightly ruled out for offside within the opening 10 minutes.
The opportunity spurred the home side into action and Holmes tested Maik Taylor from the edge of the area.
But Blues weathered Saints' storm and slowly started to gain a foothold in the encounter as the first half progressed.
Yet despite their possession it was Saints striker David McGoldrick who was next to threaten the goalless scoreline in a game otherwise lacking in goalmouth action.
Holmes forced another solid save from Taylor shortly after before James McFadden finally tested Saints keeper Kelvin Davis with Blues' first meaningful effort on goal after 35 minutes.
But after Cameron Jerome came on to replace the injured Mehdi Nafti in the closing stages of the first half, it was the home side who struck the first blow by breaking Blues' rearguard for the first time this season.
The direction of the clash seemed to change completely inside the first three minutes of the second half as John missed a great chance to put Southampton 2-0 ahead, only for Blues to level matters almost immediately.
John looked destined to all but put the result beyond doubt as he connected with McGoldrick's cross after 47 minutes but his header somehow drifted wide of Taylor's post.
Lady luck was shining on McLeish and his side as they then marched up the other end and O'Connor found some space in the area to fire a neat shot into the bottom corner and justify his inclusion in the starting line-up.
The leveller opened up the game and opportunities soon started to flow, Morgan Schneiderlin letting fly for the hosts before McFadden and Quincy went close for the visitors.
Saints fans greeted Phillips with a chorus of boos when he came on in the 76th minute but those boos soon turned to cheers from the visiting fans as the veteran put Birmingham ahead.
Neat link-up play between Phillips and McFadden led to Bent planting a header against the crossbar, and although Michael Svensson did well to keep out his first effort, the former England marksman was on hand to poke home the winner from close range.
Southampton will travel to Derby next Saturday and Birmingham will play host to Barnsley.