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Albion v Birmingham City - from The Amex
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- ALBION 1 BIRMINGHAM 0
- Albion move into top six
- David Lopez volleys winner (58)
- Randolph twice denies LuaLua in first half
- Obika on for debut in 63rd minute
- Crofts carried off injured
- Six pages of coverage in The Argus on Monday
5:10pm Sat 11 Jan 14
The BBC text service suggested that Ulloa went off injured.
We'll check. He trudged off slowly looking unhappy and went straight to the bench, not down the tunnel.
I don't think either of us thought he looked injured.
Tale of two midfielders. Lopez scoring to stay on and Crofts carried off. Add to the mix the outstanding LuaLua. #bhafc— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
#bhafc into the top six for the first time this season.— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
City boss Lee Clark was clearly angered as Hancox hung up a hopeful cross which Kuszczak held easily.
Mullins became the third man booked for fouling LuaLua when he tripped the winger near the touchline.
Very little had been seen of Obika but he had a run into the City area before the ball got away from him for a goal kick.
Orlandi was booked for kicking the ball away after LuaLua committed a foul to put pressure back on his side.
But the resulting free-kick was punched away bravely by Kuszczak under heavy pressure – and Albion broke away with three against one.
They worked it well enough and Orlandi timed his pass to tee up Ince – but the midfielder tried to go around Randolph who snatched the ball as it ran away from him.
But Albion had done enough.
Final: Albion 1 Birmingham 0
Kuszczak just made his first save, parrying Burke's angled drive. #bhafc sending for El-Abd.— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
Ward was livid when he was left facing both Caddis and Burke. Caddis sent Burke in behind Ward and into the area and his angled effort was pushed away by Kuszczak.
As Blues still pressed, another low cross fizzed across goal with no one there to apply a touch.
Albion sent on El-Abd to help shore things up as the game moved into six added minutes, David Lopez the man to make way.
Albion, so firmly in control for much of the match, were suddenly looking a little nervy as Birmingham sought a reply in the goalmouth nearest their fans.
David Lopez lifted the now rather subdued home crowd with a glorious crossfield ball to release LuaLua on the left but his low cross was cleared easily enough.
And nerves were back on edge when a cross from the left went right across the goalmouth with neither Zigic nor Burke able to get a telling touch.
Birmingham sent on Ferguson for Reilly in the 82nd minute.
But Albion fans were watching Crofts, impressive again, being helped off with what looked like a knee injury. Orlandi took his place.
Crofts hurt. Punched the ground in frustration. Looks like right knee. #bhafc— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
Then Ince saw yellow for a foul as Birmingham started to have more of the ball.
RT @OfficialBHAFC: Today's attendance for #BHAFC v #BCFC is 26,796, with 1038 in support of the visitors. Thank you all for your support.— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
David Lopez almost added another wonderful goal, this time with a left foot curler as he span away from a tackle. But his effort from outside the box flew narrowly wide.
Caddis slipped a clever pass to get Burke to the byline and there looked real danger. But Bruno read the winger’s cutback and intercepted it before running the ball away from the area.
Andrews was the first Albion man into the book, for kicking the ball away.
Lee was the second Birmingham midfielder to be booked for fouling LuaLua in the centre circle.
BHAFC 1 BIRMINGHAM 0 :BBC Sussex's Adam Virgo "Lee Clark fuming with the linesman - a quality finish from Lopez" #NorthStandChat— @BBCSussexSport 11 January 2014
Burke still posed a potential threat down the Birmingham right. Albion were at full stretch to clear his low cross.
Good chasing by Ward forced a corner which came to nothing.
Obika made his debut in the 63rd minute by replacing a disappointed looking Ulloa.
At the same stoppage, Birmingham sent on Brown for Elliott.
Crofts almost extended the lead with an angled 25-yarder which Randolph saved well diving to his right.
Albion fans were sensing a breakthrough – and it came in sumptuous style. Bruno and David Lopez worked a clever move down the right and the latter’s ball in was met by a full-blooded drive from Crofts which Randolph blocked.
A follow-up by Ulloa was blocked by Mullins – but the ball looped back to DAVID LOPEZ who, from an unpromising angle, sent a perfect volley, possibly with a bit of curl off the outside of his foot, across Randolph and inside the far post.
Randolph is quick off his line to deny LuaLua. #BHAFC v #BCFC http://t.co/onC40nrC5U— @OfficialBHAFC 11 January 2014
Quicker tempo to the last #bhafc passing attack. That could be the key.— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
As in the first half, Zigic made a bright start to the second period. He got his head on a cross and the ball bounced around in front of goal before Kuszczak forced it behind.
Lee’s attempt at a quick corner was picked off and for a moment it looked like Albion might muster a threatening counter attack in response. But Ulloa was hustled off the ball.
As Birmingham played themselves into trouble a few moments later, LuaLua pushed the ball ahead of him and ran but Randolph dived at his feet and swatted the ball away.
Burke, scorer of a long-range winner here last term, tried his luck with a 25-yard curler which cleared the top corner.
Still LuaLua looked the biggest threat. He span away from a marker and worked a slick one-touch move with Ulloa and Andrews before slipping as he shot right-footed and sending the ball rolling harmlessly wide.
HT: No goals, with Albion getting better as the half progressed. A few chances for Albion, but mainly from long range. #BHAFC 0 #BCFC 0— @OfficialBHAFC 11 January 2014
Birmingham forced a corner in the one added minute but Ulloa got in front of Zigic to head clear.
Half: Albion 0 Birmingham 0
#bhafc LuaLua is most certainly the key to this game - Birmingham cannot handle him at all at the moment - suspect Clark will address at HT— @BHAFerret 11 January 2014
Bruno’s run off the ball was spotted by Andrews who angled a cross on to his head. Bruno nodded back across goal but handball claims were waved away as Crofts’ volley was charged down.
Then LuaLua went for goal with two shots in quick succession, both saved with real difficulty by Randolph. He dived to his left to parry the first and awkwardly flapped the second behind.
Birmingham were unhappy when Mullins was adjudged by the assistant referee to have clipped Crofts just outside the box.
The free-kick was wide of goal and David opted to chip the ball up to the far post – where it was nodded behind – rather than shoot.
The towering Zigic had no trouble heading away the corner.
Lopez 20-yarder pushed behind by the diving Randolph. #bhafc struggling to get shots away before that through well-organised Brum ranks.— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
Albion were trying to pick their way through the massed Birmingham ranks – and being implored to shoot by fans.
They got their wish when Ince’s tackle helped nudge the ball on to the left foot of David Lopez for a 20-yard curler which Randolph pushed wide diving to low to his right.
Ward was next to have a go with a low drive which was blocked after he was found at the far post.
But Burke engineered another right wing attack and Upson had to defend well again to concede a corner which came to nothing.
Reilly was first in the book for a foul on LuaLua in the centre circle.
There were groans as Bruno got right under a cross from the right. But he had spotted David Lopez all alone beyond the far post and the midfielder met the dropping ball with a sweetly-timed volley – but Birmingham cleared in the goalmouth.
LuaLua looking lively for #bhafc— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
The match and atmosphere were still just a little flat – and two misplaced passes in quick succession by Bruno did not lift the mood.
Greer had to hack a Novak cross over his own bar to concede a corner after a Blues move involving Burke on their right.
The resulting corner was headed down by Mullins and Andrews appeared to clear from close to the line in a congested goalmouth.
Albion replied quickly. This time LuaLua appeared on the right and got on the end of a clever Greer pass to force a force a corner.
That flag kick caused a few alarms but Crofts saw his shot blocked.
Bruno then worked a lovely combination with David Lopez, whose cross was met by Ulloa with a tame header when Andrews was better placed just behind him.
Just had an example of one of the style changes made by OG. #bhafc pressed high up the pitch to force an error out of Birmingham.— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
LuaLua again beat Caddis down the outside and again his low cross was cleared. This time it went as far as Andrews who was implored to shoot but instead fed David Lopez down the right. His cross was half cut out but good work by Ince kept the move alive until Ward fired an ambitious shot well over from outside the box.
Then Upson had to defend well to cut out a long crossfield ball by Novak aimed for Burke’s run.
Zigic offered an almost immediate glimpse of the threat he can pose. He was involved in a move, then made tracks to the far post as Elliott curled in a dangerous ball. Upson got there first to head behind and Zigic, all 6ft 8in of him, managed to head down the resulting corner before it was cleared.
There was a buzz of excitement on the first occasion the ball got to LuaLua.
He was closed down and, when a cross eventually came in, it was too high for Ulloa and defender Robinson at the back post.
LuaLua went down the outside next time he got the ball and eased past Caddis. His low cross was cleared for a corner from which David Lopez failed to clear the first defender.
Now we are into the guts of the season and injuries are clearing up, we are starting to see what OG's sees as his first choices. #bhafc— @AndyNaylorArgus 11 January 2014
3:01pm Sat 11 Jan 14
Birmingham seem to be going 4 at the back with 2 in front of them and 3 in midfield, is this a, 'park the bus,' line up?
Not really - Burke and Novak in particular are dangerous off Zigic and they have Elliott in there too today.
It works - six unbeaten away from home.
Albion going North to South in first half.
The January wheeling and dealing is well and truly under way.
Which is why we tread a sort of middle ground this afternoon as Albion host Birmingham City.
The Seagulls give a first call-up to Jonathan Obika, who signed on loan from Spurs on Wednesday and is on the bench.
But they are missing Ashley Barnes, who joined Burnley yesterday and is on the bench for the Clarets at Yeovil today.
So we await more activity both in and out, while Birmingham come south in that interim period – after they have seen loan players leave and before they have got them back or brought in other reinforcements.
All of which is explained more fully in our team news stories which were uploaded earlier.
But it all adds intrigue to a game which sees the Seagulls look to break into the top six for the first time this season and Blues aim to extend the second best unbeaten away run in the division (behind Ipswich).
And the sun is out too.
We are almost ready to go.
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