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00:31 22nd June 2012
By  Dan Nelson

Beckford goal the difference

Town made it three wins on the spin away from home as they recorded a narrow one goal victory over Birmingham.

The Terriers deserved to open the scoring mid-way through the first half when James Vaughan – making his 50th career start – slid the ball through for Jermaine Beckford who made no mistake from eight yards.

Birmingham hit the post in the first half before the introduction of Nikola Zigic at half-time began to cause the Town defence problems. However, just as the Blues were beginning to build-up a head of steam the Serbian was given his marching orders for a rash challenge on Calum Woods.

The home side continued to press and forced Alex Smithies into a superb save in the final few minutes to preserve the three points for Town.

James Vaughan made a surprise return to the starting line-up following a groin injury to partner the returning Jermaine Beckford in attack as Town looked to get back to winning ways against Birmingham.

Also, Calum Woods made his first start of the season in place of Paul Dixon and winger Adam Hammill was deemed fit enough for a place on the bench after missing the last four games with a knee injury.

Town, looking to bounce back after successive home defeats, had plenty of zip about them during the opening stages of the game with the new front pairing of Vaughan and Beckford causing Birmingham plenty of problems.

The combination almost created the first goal of the game with only 30 seconds on the clock when Beckford worked hard to dispossess Curtis Davies before passing inside for Vaughan. The on loan Norwich man shielded the ball well eight yards from goal, but skewed his effort on the turn wide of Jack Butland’s goal.

Beckford turned receiver a few minutes later but couldn’t convert Danny Ward’s cross and was then inches away from Vaughan’s delivery on the right.

Vaughan then headed over Oliver Norwood’s cross before Birmingham created its best chance of the game to date. The Blues countered well through Jonathan Spector with the ball eventually finding its way out to winger Nathan Redmond, who after a first good touch, fired at goal forcing Anthony Gerrard to clear with his head.

At the other end Town continued to cause the Blues’ defence problems with Davies coming to the rescue for the home team to deny Keith Southern from eight yards.

Town’s breakthrough eventually came mid-half through the half when Vaughan collected Adam Clayton’s ball before sliding in Beckford who made no mistake from eight yards.

The Terriers well deserved its lead but almost lost it on the half-hour mark when Birmingham’s biggest threat, Redmond, curled an effort against Alex Smithies’ post. Town continued to dominate for the rest of the half with its best chance coming through Ward, who forced Butland into a fantastic acrobatic save with a rasping shot from 25 yards. 

Blues Manager Lee Clark made the first change of the game during the half-time interval replacing Keith Fahey with the imposing figure of Nikola Zigic. Clark’s change saw Zigic partner Leroy Lita in attack as the Blues changed to a 4-4-2 formation and matched up Town. 

Clark’s men started the second half with more purpose and with Zigic up top they had someone to target their attacks around. The Serbian’s height was causing the Town defence problems and after Smithies had flapped at a free-kick, Chris Burke attempted to lob the stopper but he showed superb agility to tip the ball over.

The ex-Rangers man was in the action again a minute late when he jinked into the box before curling a left-footed effort just wide of Smithies’ goal. 

Having soaked up some decent Blues pressure Town slowly regained a footing in the game and on the hour mark midfielder Clayton had two decent chances, but on both occasions he miss-hit his efforts on goal.

Peter Clarke, up from the back, forced Butland into a good save with twenty minutes to go, but the referee D’Urso had already stopped play for an infringement as Town went in search of a second.

With 15 minutes to go Birmingham were dealt a major blew when attacking threat Zigic was shown a straight red. The big Serbian made a late and high challenge on Woods leaving referee D’Urso no choice but to show the red card.

Despite being down to ten Birmingham continued to ask the question and very nearly levelled matters five minutes from time when Lita shot from six yards only to see his effort blocked by the back of Clarke, who had flung himself in the way.


Town’s team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Calum Woods (Paul Dixon (90+5), Peter Clarke (c), Anthony Gerrard, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Lee Novak, 84), Oliver Norwood, Keith Southern, Adam Clayton; James Vaughan (Adam Hammill, 68), Jermaine Beckford

Unused substitutes:

Ian Bennett, Sean Scannell, Murray Wallace, Anton Robinson

Bookings Birmingham:

Red card Birmingham: Nikola Zigic 74,

Bookings Town: Jack Hunt 90+1

Attendance: 18,487

Away: 1,901


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.