Birmingham 2 Doncaster Rovers 1: Match Report

marc antoine fortune breaks past jonathan spector
marc antoine fortune breaks past jonathan spector
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A SECOND half brace by striker Marlon King ensured that Birmingham City continue to rule at St Andrews.

Dean Saunders’ men looked on course to become the first side to lower the Blues’ colours at home this season when taking the lead five minutes after the restart.

But King, Coventry City’s top scorer last season, struck twice in the last 30 minutes to dash Rovers’ hopes.

The defeat means that Rovers will go into festive period still in the relegation zone.

It also left them still looking for their first back-to-back league wins of the season - a fact which highlights their lack of consistency.

Yet this was game they were capable of winning.

Birmingham had won only one of their last nine Europa League and Championship games and were playing their third match in seven days.

They looked there for the taking if Rovers, who fielded an unchanged side, could reproduce the form they showed when beating leaders Southampton a week earlier.

For an hour or so they looked capable of recording their first win at St Andrews in 60 years without playing as well as they had done against the Saints.

Rovers were slow out of the blocks with the Blues looking pleased to be back at St Andrews after four successive games on the road, and made the early running with left-back David Murphy and Chris Burke both showing up well on the flanks.

But the Rovers’ defence, which had kept two clean sheets in the last three games, coped well with the pressure.

The South Yorkshire side gradually began to make their presence felt in the final third and but for a more clinical finish by James Coppinger from eight yards out, they would have taken the lead.

Herold Goulon could probably have done better with a header from a left-wing cross, before the home side had claims for hand-ball in the box turned down.

Chris Wood headed over the far post from another Murphy cross before Sharp, looking to score for the third successive game, headed over from a 35th minute corner with his only real chance of the game.

Wood again failed to hit the target with a far-post header. Ikeme needed to produce a super save just before the break to deny Wood from almost point-blank range.

Rovers broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half.

Birmingham-born right-back Jimmy O’Connor started the move when bringing the ball out of defence before Sharp and Coppinger linked well down the right with the latter picking out on-loan striker Marc-Antoine Fortune, who took a touch before beating keeper Boaz Myhill.

There must have been a hope in the Rovers’ camp at that stage that Birmingham heads would go down as they faced up to a third defeat in a week.

Sadly for Rovers it didn’t happen - though it might have been a different story had they grabbed a second.

Birmingham don’t boast the best home defensive record in the Championship for nothing, however.

Apart from when Murphy tested Ikeme from a 25 yard free-kick, you couldn’t see Birmingham scoring either and it needed a defensive mistake to help them get back on level terms in the 62nd minute.

Ikeme’s pass failed to reach Habib Beye, who did well to beat King to the ball, only to be robbed by Chris Burke on the edge of the box. The midfielder then picked out King who drilled the ball home.

The goal served to lift the home side’s spirits and it was a case of all hands to the pump as Rovers were forced on to the back foot.

Just when it was beginning to look as though Rovers would hold out for a point, Blues’ man-of-the-match Burke picked out King in the box with a neat through ball and the striker supplied the finish to leave Rovers empty-handed and Blues’ boss Chris Hughton, relieved.

“Doncaster were a team in form and they’ve got some good players and you can see why they’ve turned things around,” said the man who got Newcastle promoted from the Championship two years ago.

“But I’d like to think that nobody is going to come here and get an easy game.”