Birmingham 1-0 Blackburn: Stephen Gleeson goal downs Rovers
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/10/16 7:11pm
An inspirational substitution worked wonders for Birmingham and paved the way to a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Blackburn following a second-half goal from Stephen Gleeson.
Diego Fabbrini had only been on the pitch for one minute when he cleverly set up the move for Gleeson's winner to keep Birmingham in the promotion hunt.
Blackburn, seeking a second successive away win, had previously been watertight but succumbed to one of the best moves of the game which ended in Gleeson's goal.
There was an early scare for Blackburn's rearguard when David Cotterill easily worked his way clear on the right to arrow a cross to the far post where Jacques Maghoma just failed to make a clean contact.
Blackburn recovered from a somewhat shaky start to create several promising moves but in a game of few real chances in the opening half hour the best chance fell to Birmingham.
Che Adams, who grabbed a crucial equaliser against Preston on Tuesday, was rewarded with a starting place but the young Birmingham striker struggled to effectively link up with Lukas Jutkiewicz which went a long way to explaining a barren first half.
The game tended to drift aimlessly although Birmingham continued to throw away chances life confetti. Gleeson was again guilty party early in the second period. Blackburn's defence was caught short of numbers following an attack which broke down.
Maghoma broke on the left and his cross found the unmarked Gleeson who inexplicably guided his shot over the bar with only Jason Steele to beat.
It could have proved an expensive miss as in the 52nd minute Adam Legzdins was forced to make a flying save to his right to keep out a goalbound effort from Marvin Emnes. But a minute after Birmingham had introduced Diego Fabbrini (64) it was the Italian who created the opening.
He put Cotterill in possession and from the cross the unmarked Gleeson rammed his shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards. Only the woodwork prevented Cotterill adding a second goal for Birmingham. From the rebound Lutkiewicz shot straight at Steele.
Birmingham manager Gary Rowett:
"We caused them problems but they caused us one or two. Our second half was better. We tend to start slowly but get stronger and that is testament to our experience and game management.
"The key moment for me was early in the second half when Adam Legzdins made a fantastic save from Marvin Emnes. It was a crucial save and we went away to score the winner."
Blackburn manager Owen Coyle:
"It was a hard-fought game. The margins were very fine. We could have picked up a point. If we had scored the first goal it could have been different as we had a couple of opportunities to score.
"The disappointment was that we were in possession before they scored the goal. Saying that, it was a wonderful finish from Gleeson."