Birmingham break Stoke hearts...
Birmingham produced the first chance of the game in just the fourth minute when Sebastian Larsson delivered a swinging cross to the back post which was met by the in-form Nikola Zigic but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
Stoke were very slow to get started which is no surprise as they are the only Premier League team this season not to score in the first 15 minutes of a game.
Larsson again threatened just moments later when he delivered another dangerous cross, this time looking for Martins though Stoke defender Robert Huth blocked the cross.
Birmingham continued to press and looked to open the scoring when they were awarded a free-kick in a good position. Larsson delivered once more and a good chance fell to Liam Ridgewell but the effort did not have enough power on it to trouble Asmir Begovic.
Stoke responded to the early Birmingham pressure when they nearly scored through Jermaine Pennant. The former Birmingham man curled a free-kick inches wide with Ben Foster well beaten.
Stoke forced a good save from Ben Foster when David Bentley gave possession away cheaply to Kenwyne Jones who cut in well before hitting a shot towards the left hand corner which was well saved.
The Stoke centre-backs were being worked very hard by Larsson’s superb crossing which was all aimed at Zigic which Huth and Shawcross dealt with pretty well.
Birmingham’s danger man Larsson went close to scoring himself this time when a great run left the Stoke defenders kicking mid-air before unleashing a curling effort which had Begovic scrambling but the shot flashed just wide.
Both teams were struggling to create clear cut chances and with under half an hour to play a goal at St Andrews was looking unlikely.
Stoke then almost scored through trademark fashion when Rory Delap rifled a throw into the Birmingham area which was headed away straight to Huth who smashed his shot in, though the goal was disallowed for a foul somewhere in the mass group of bodies in Birmingham penalty area.
Birmingham then had a penalty appeal turned down for a hand ball from Huth though referee Mark Halsey decided it was ball to hand, a lucky escape for the German who protested his innocence by falling to the ground holding his face.
Martins was withdrawn with 15 minutes to play, the Nigerian was well off the pace throughout the game but the long ball tactics of both teams certainly didn’t help the diminutive striker.
Going into the final minutes both clubs kept searching for the goal which would surely win the game though both teams lacked quality in the final third.
And in injury time Zigic scored to give Birmingham all three points. Bentley's shot was saved by Begovic though he couldn’t hold on and Cameron Jerome picked up the lose ball and chipped it goal-wards which was met by Zigic to score his third goal in as many games.
This game was never going to promise goals with St Andrews seeing just 25 goals all season, the lowest amount in the Premier League though Birmingham have now extended their unbeaten home record of losing just 2 in the last 27 at home.