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Rovers 2 Birmingham 0


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Match Report by Scotty

A comfortable enough win in the end - that's 4 wins out of 5 since the defeat against Newcastle. Not many people questioning Hughes now I notice.

We seem to start games off slowly at home. I suspect Hughes wants us to keep things tight early on, but it would be nice if we got at teams straight from the off. The tempo in the first half was largely non-existant and, as a result, Brum easily contained us. Of course, the early kick-off may not help either.

We looked much sharper after half-time. We started to play more direct and Kuqi won some good flick-ons, one of which led to the penalty. It was a soft decision, we'd have been up in arms if it had been given against us, but we probably deserved some luck after last week.

After that we controlled the game, apart from a ten minute period when Bruce put on an extra midfielder and they slightly over-ran us. Bellamy's goal came at a good time though and killed the game off. It was a touch of class (great ball from Pedersen, great finish by Bellamy) in a game devoid of any real quality.

We defended well throughout, from front to back, and restricted Brum to one half-chance. It's already obvious that with Bellamy in the team we're much better than when he's not. Kuqi and Dickov work their nuts off but they don't offer anything like the same sort of threat as Bellamy does. He's a class act.

On the down-side, Bentley and Tugay were largely poor. Both of them had their moments, but they failed to really make an impact and stamp their quality on the game. Bentley seems to have lost a bit of confidence recently which is a shame as I thought he looked promising at Bolton and Old Trafford. Might be time to bring Emerton back.

We've started to beat the teams we should beat at home, which is a sign that we're becoming a decent side. Not great by any means, but decent enough. If Bellamy stays fit we've got a chance of making the top 6. If not, then we'll probably be lower mid-table. Either way, I can't see us being involved in the relegation battle any more - so I guess that's progress.

Rovers: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen (Todd 45), Gray, Bentley (Emerton 75), Savage, Tugay, Pedersen, Kuqi, Dickov (Bellamy 62).

Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Reid.

Goals: Dickov 49 pen, Bellamy 81.

Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Tebily (Kilkenny 75), Cunningham, Upson, Clapham, Pennant, Johnson, Butt, Lazaridis (Jarosik 70), Heskey, Forssell.

Subs Not Used: Martin Taylor, Pandiani, Vaesen.

Booked: Heskey, Cunningham, Pennant.

Att: 18,341

Ref: B Knight

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