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Birmingham 4 Rovers 0


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Not one of the best away grounds I’ve visited, the bare concrete concourse makes you appreciate Ewood Park, with it’s vinyl tile flooring, painted walls, tv screens and tanoy system. I tend to wonder if there was an emergency at St Andrews how they would inform the crowd. The tanoy system wasn’t of much use this afternoon to those like myself sat towards the front of the Railway Stand trying to comprehend why the game was being delayed, although the lack of floodlights should have been a clue.

Eventually the game did kick off 35 minutes late, although the frozen travelling supporters in hindsight might have appreciated if the St Andrews maintenance department hadn’t resolved the electrical fault, for it did not appear that the Rovers had been made aware that the game had kicked off.

After their recent defeat in the league by Rovers, Birmingham were set for revenge and dominated the first half, fighting for and winning every ball. With Dunn and Savage going close in the first few minutes. Todd having to clear Savages effort off the line.

Birmingham had an enforced change to their line up as early as the 12 minute when former Rover Jeff Kenna moved from right back to replace central defender Upson who was streachered off after a tackle on Cole. Another ex Rover, Damian Johnson moving from the right wing position into vacated right back spot and substitute Hughes took over the right wing location. However despite the changes Birmingham took control of the game and were rewarded ten minutes later when Hughes layed the ball through to Morrison who in turn shot past Friedel.

Another ex Rover was soon to get in on the act, when David Dunn set off on a run before passing to Forssell who after holding the ball, fed Clemence who slotted the ball past Friedel with his right-foot.

Rovers themselves were never in the game and it took them until nearly half time before threatening the Birmingham keeper, only to find that Cole had been ruled off side.

Half time 2-0

At half time Souness made a tactical change bringing on Dino Baggio for the in effective Mahon. Baggio taking up the right hand of midfield and Gresko the left side, Souness moved Neill to right back and Babbel to left back, with Short and Todd in the middle of the defence. A further change was made within ten minutes of the restart when Short was replaced by Taylor in the heart of the defence.

With half an hour Rovers brought on Yorke for exhausted Gallagher, who had run himself in to the ground chasing lost causes.

Although Rovers did have a bit more early possession with Baggio coming close on a couple of occasions, even hitting the post, it was still Birmingham’s day as first Forssell broke free in the 78 minute to round Friedel before shooting into an empty goalmouth and then Morrison lay the ball in to the path of Hughes who made no mistake in getting on the score sheet in the 85 minute.

Full time 4-0

With Rovers out of all cup competitions for this season, Souness must now lift the squad, in preparation for the crucial league games against Wolves and Manchester City next week and hope that their next game against Birmingham in May isn’t in order to avoid relegation.

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