Birmingham 0-2 Norwich: Blues stay bottom after Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy strikes
Last Updated: 26/12/17 7:19pm
Birmingham remain entrenched at the bottom of the Sky Bet Championship after a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Norwich.
The Canaries collected a valuable away victory carved out by a superb first-half goal from the outstanding Alex Pritchard and a second from Josh Murphy.
It was a real dogfight but Birmingham have now won only two games in 13 outings under manager Steve Cotterill and scored just five goals.
Birmingham, severely handicapped by their lack of strikers, went into the game with only one win in 11 games while Norwich had just one victory in 10 outings which demonstrated why it was such a tense match.
With James Maddison as their playmaker, Norwich were bright and breezy in the opening exchanges but Birmingham battled their way back into contention with some determined moves but failed to create any really serious goalscoring opportunities.
Lukas Jutkiewicz, drafted into the side in place of the suspended Sam Gallagher, failed to make much impression against a Norwich defence which effectively funnelled back at the sight of danger.
Birmingham's best chance of breaking the deadlock occurred when Jonathan Grounds went on a run finishing with a curling shot towards the far top corner of the net forcing Angus Gunn to make a fingertip save.
Norwich, without the services of Cameron Jerome who had scored three goals in his last two starts against Birmingham, had to mount a defensive blockade with Timm Kiose playing a key role.
The industry of Craig Gardner emerged as an important feature of Birmingham's play, but the performance of their expensive signing, Jota, left a great deal to be desired.
Birmingham's commitment to attack left them vulnerable as was demonstrated when Norwich took a 31st-minute lead. Maddison provided a low pass to the right from a smart set-piece routine, enabling Pritchard to run onto the ball and score with a powerful angled shot.
The goal immediately resulted in Norwich adopting an even more defensive shape in a bid to retain their slender advantage, but they still looked more dangerous than the hosts as Nelson Oliveira was denied a second goal after the break by another smart save from David Stockdale.
Norwich settled the game when Pritchard astutely set up Murphy with a through-ball, and Murphy took the ball around Stockdale to score.
The Birmingham goalkeeper prevented a heavier defeat with two outstanding saves, but there was no way back for Blues.
Steve Cotterill: "It is tough and at the present time there are no options. We cannot score goals but there are teams in the Championship who have played far worse than Birmingham and got a win.
"The confidence was low when I came in and nothing has changed. The only consolation is that the results elsewhere have gone for us and we are not any worse off than we were before the Norwich game.
"If we had obtained three points it would have taken us out of the bottom three and now we have another big home game at the weekend against Leeds."
Daniel Farke: "He [Alex Pritchard] improves from game to game which is important to us.
"He missed the first 20 games of the season following an operation. He is a key player and I rate him one of the best players in his position in the whole league.
"It was solid and a good team performance. We controlled the game and it was an important win for us.
I had to make five changes because we have the toughest period of our season with five games in 14 days and that is why this was a crucial win."