December 1, 2014 by bluenosebible
Birmingham City 2-1 Nottingham Forest
By Shane Ireland
Birmingham City’s terrific transformation under Gary Rowett continued with a dramatic win over Nottingham Forest, thanks to a late Paul Caddis penalty.
David Coterril superbly put Blues in front after just 10 minutes on Trevor Francis Day at St Andrew’s, before Championship top scorer Britt Assombalonga appeared to have secured a point for Forest when he equalised with six minutes remaining.
But the striker lost the point he’d gained for his side, handling the ball on the line in the final minutes to give Paul Caddis the opportunity from the spot which was dully taken.
Blues started well in front of the biggest crowd of the season at St Andrew’s and almost took the lead within the opening skirmishes. Demarai Gray, who tantalised the Forest defence throughout, skipped past two players before curling a shot just wide of the post.
But on 10 minutes, Blues’ quick start paid off. David Cotterill gained possession just outside the penalty area, before cutting inside and unleashing a shot which crashed off the underside of the woodwork and into the net, leaving a helpless Darlow in the Forest goal easily beaten.
Supporters once again acknowledged the 40th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings, with applause in the 21st minute. On the pitch, Rowett’s men continued to press in a dangerous fashion and this time Forest had the crossbar to thank, when Paul Caddis’ deflected cross dropped agonisingly against the woodwork.
The next chance of any note was into the second half, when the excellent Michael Morrison headed a corner over the the bar as both sides impressed in a midfield battle.
Darlow was forced into a save 20 minutes later, Clayton Donaldson running through the Forest half with the ball at his feet before engineering a metre of space to unleash a shot at goal which was tipped wide by the goalkeeper. Blues looked value for their lead as David Cotterill attempted an audacious shot from his own half which had Darlow anxiously backtracking, but the effort cleared the bar.
Darren Randolph, a spectator throughout, was called into action as the visitors stepped up their assault against a solid home defence. Michail Antonio’s low drive was palmed away by the Blues keeper before Forest eventually found a way through with just six minutes remaining. Jamie Paterson flicked on a cross into the path of Assombalonga, who headed home from close range amid suspicions of offside.
However, the drama was not over, in fact it had hardly begun.
Substitute Lee Novak very nearly found the net with three minutes left, but saw his shot excellently turned around the post by Darlow. But, from the resulting corner, Blues found the winner. Michael Morrison rose highest in a packed box and thought he’d scored the winner, only for Forest goalscorer Asssombalonga to use his arm to divert the headed over the bar. It was clear for all inside St Andrew’s to see, apart from referee Geoff Eltringham who awarded a corner. However, in controversial fashion, the fourth official consulted Eltringham, advising him to rightfully award the penalty and give Assombalanga his marching orders. Caddis smashed the resulting spot-kick home, handing Blues a deserved three points in the dramatic end to the match.
The win takes Blues up 17th, with 11 points in five games, and the Rowett revolution continues.
Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett:
“It was controversial the way it happened. The referee gave a corner, the linesman gave a corner and it was the fourth official who said it was handball.
“The referee took his time and conferred with him. And, as galling as it must have been for the Forest bench, it was the right decision.
“You can argue whether he should make the decision from that far away, but you can’t argue with the fact that it was the right decision in the end.
“I wasn’t 100% clear until I’d seen it again but, having seen the replay, it was without a shadow of the doubt, the right decision.”
Nottingham Forest boss Stuart Pearce:
“It took a while for the decision to be made but eventually the right one was and we accept that. We’ll never be a football club that bemoans the match officials.
“I saw Britt handball it and so did the fourth official behind me. I’m not quite sure how the referee and his linesman, who were closer, could not see that but fair play to the referee. He has admitted he couldn’t see the incident.
Starting line up: Randolph; Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds; Davis, Gleeson, Cotterill, Shinnie (Reilly), Gray (Novak); Donaldson
Subs not used: Moussi, Eardley, Doyle, Arthur, Edgar
Man of the match: David Davis