January 3, 2016 by Shane Ireland
By Shane Ireland
Maikel Kieftenbeld scored his first goal in royal blue to hand Birmingham City their third straight home win with a 2-1 victory against Brentford.
The Dutchman bagged a late winner after James Vaughan’s enterprising run.
Jacques Maghoma put Blues ahead with his second goal in as many games when he latched onto Jon Toral’s pass and fired past Brentford goalkeeper David Button, then Phillip Hoffman levelled for the visitors after Tomasz Kuszczak fumbled.
But with just one minute of normal time remaining Kieftenbeld slid home from close range to secure all three points, to the delight of manager Gary Rowett.
“We have won three games, drawn two and lost one in the last six games and are now only three points behind one of the really big teams in our division.
“We are massively punching above our weight but we now have the opportunity to strengthen our attacking options as we have not scored enough goals recently.
“Without coming under too much pressure we showed great resolve to go for the winning goal after Brentford obtained their equaliser,” he enthused.
Rowett named an unchanged side from Blues’ 1-0 win against MK Dons last time out, but Demarai Gray was left out of the matchday squad as the 19-year-old finalises a move away from St Andrew’s.
In a first-half of few opportunities, Toral’s late challenge on Jake Bidwell was the main talking point – for which he was perhaps lucky to remain on the pitch – though not before the Arsenal loanee headed just wide from a Paul Caddis cross.
After the break, the home side started brightest and Viv Solomon-Otabor – who has been granted more starting opportunities in the absence of the departing Gray – cut inside and unleashed a powerful effort which was gathered by Button.
But the Brentford stopper was helpless to prevent Maghoma from putting Blues ahead on 55 minutes.
The winger slid the ball into Toral, and the Spaniard returned the favour with a perfectly-weighted pass which Maghoma drilled past Button at the near post.
The Bees’ top scorer Alan Judge then squandered an excellent chance as he blasted over when one-on-one with Kuszczak but Brentford levelled when Hoffman capitalised on an error by the Polish goalkeeper.
Judge hit a potent shot from 30 yards after a short free-kick that proved too hot to handle for Kuszczak who spilled the ball into the path of Hoffman and forward tapped in from six yards.
If the visitors thought they had procured a share of the spoils, they were to be devastated in the final minute as Kieftenbeld applied the finishing touch to a counter attack which he started to snatch the win for Birmingham.
His interception fell to Andy Shinnie who found Vaughan and after escaping the attentions of two Brentford defenders, he squared the ball into the path of Kieftenbeld and the midfielder bagged the winner from close range.