December 19, 2015 by Shane Ireland
By Shane Ireland
Paul Caddis scored a controversial penalty in first-half injury time to hand Birmingham City a 1-0 win against Cardiff City – their first in six matches.
Referee Peter Coote pointed to the spot for handball after Matthew Connolly blocked James Vaughan’s shot and Caddis duly converted, but replays suggested the official made the wrong decision as the ball hit Connolly’s face.
It was Gary Rowett’s side first goal in 432 minutes at St Andrew’s, and Caddis’ fourth of the season.
The result was perhaps unfair on Cardiff who enjoyed a greater share of chances in front of goal, with Sammy Ameobi firing wide from six yards in the second-half before Blues goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak tipped Peter Whittingham’s effort round the post.
Speaking about the decision to award his side a penalty, Rowett said: “At the time I couldn’t see it, the lad had his arm up so it was very difficult to tell whether it hit his arm.
“I saw it afterwards and it’s hit him clear in the face, the only thing the referee could potentially see was his arm is up next to his head so he maybe thinks there’s contact. You have to be 100% sure in that situation and he can’t have been.
“But for us not to play as well tonight, perhaps get a bit of fortunate and take the three points I can’t be unhappy with that. I would take a poor performance and three points. It was always going to be a big week for us,” he added.
Newcastle United loanee Sammy Ameobi proved a thorn in Blues’ side throughout and forced Kuszczak into a smart stop when he cut inside and skipped past debutant Shane Lowry, after Anthony Pilkington could have given Cardiff the lead but instead opted to head inside rather than aiming for the target.
Blues’ own wing wonder Demarai Gray was overshadowed by Ameobi’s performance, shooting well over the bar before Cardiff’s Bruno Manga had to be alert to block Stephen Gleeson’s cross that was arrowing towards James Vaughan.
As both sides threatened but struggled to carve a real opening, Blues were handed a lifeline as the first half drew to a close, in fortuitous circumstances.
Visiting stopper David Marshall spilled the ball into the path of Michael Morrison, who found James Vaughan and the striker’s resulting shot was blocked by the outstretched Connolly.
Although replays showed that the ball hit the defender’s face, referee Coote awarded Blues a spot-kick for handball, which Caddis fired home, sending Marshall the wrong way.
The home side almost doubled their lead after the break, but Jon Toral’s powerful shot was saved by Marshall after neat build-up play from Jacques Maghoma and Mikael Kieftenbeld.
Although Blues’ central defensive pairing of Morrison and Jonathan Spector guarded Kuszczak’s goal resolutely, the visitors were afforded two opportunities but squandered both.
First, Pilkington diverted Scott Malone’s driven cross wide from close range, before Ameobi raced through an opening in the Blues backline but failed to find the target.
Birmingham rise above Cardiff into seventh, just a point behind the Championship play off places.