TOWN 1 BLUES 3
Bartley brace secures Blues win
Kyle Bartley’s second half brace condemned Town to back to back defeats ahead of the international break.
The defender scored two almost identical headers from Jesse Lingard free-kicks to earn his side the victory, before receiving his second yellow of the match during his second goal celebration.
Nikola Zigic had earlier given the visitors the lead before Anthony Gerrard levelled matters on the half hour mark.
Like at Wigan last week, though, Town lacked the cutting edge in attack to break down a resolute Blues defence.
Both Jonathan Hogg and Joel Lynch had failed to shake off knocks in time for the match meaning Anthony Gerrard and Sean Scannell were handed starts.
There was also a place on the bench for Spaniard Cristian Lopez who had returned from his loan spell at Shrewsbury Town during the week.
A minute’s silence was observed impeccably by both teams and fans alike ahead of kick off, as Town paid its respects to the countries armed forces.
The Terriers were dealt a huge blow with just four minutes of the game played, though, when Captain Peter Clarke was forced off following a crunching tackle with Jesse Lingard; Joel Lynch replaced the defender.
That blow was magnified in the eleventh minute when Nikola Zigic bundled home the opener from three yards, after Alex Smithies had saved superbly from Lee Novak.
Novak had earlier tested Smithies as the Blues started the brighter of the two teams.
Town were shell shocked and had it not been for the offside flag they would have been further behind when Lingard tapped home from Zigic’s pass, but the big Serb was deemed to have been in an offside position.
Town’s first effort had come just prior to the Blues’ disallowed goal, when Danny Ward saw a low free-kick diverted behind expertly by Paul Robinson.
The equaliser wasn’t far away though, but not many fans would have bet on Anthony Gerrard netting for the Terriers. The defender was making his first start in three games and he lost his marker superbly to flick home Adam Hammill’s free-kick on the half hour mark.
The goal produced some much needed positivity around the John Smith’s Stadium as Town finished the half on top with Sean Scannell going close when he shot low at Darren Randolph.
That positivity was short lived, though, as the Blues started the second 45 on top with Novak again forcing Smithies into a save.
However, from the save Town almost went ahead when Hammill drove at Mitch Hancox before firing just wide.
Daniel Carr and Oscar Gobern were introduced with 25 minutes to play and were just in time to watch Birmingham restore their lead. Kyle Bartley was left completely unmarked from Lingard’s corner and he made the Terriers’ pay with a bullet header past Smithies.
Town failed to trouble Randolph as the game continued and with ten minutes to go the Blues sealed the victory when Birmingham repeated the trick of the second goal, with Bartley heading home from Lingard.
Bartley turned from hero to villain, though, within a matter of seconds when he was shown his second yellow card as a result of his goal celebration.
The dismissal had no bearing on the result, as Town lost for the second successive match.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Alex Smithies; Paul Dixon, Peter Clarke (c) (Joel Lynch,6), Anthony Gerrard, Jazz Richards; Keith Southern , Oliver Norwood (Oscar Gobern, 64); Danny Ward, Adam Hammill, Sean Scannell; Jon Stead (Daniel Carr, 64)
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Duane Holmes, Cristian Lopez
Bookings Town: Jazz Richards 35, Joel Lynch 88
Bookings Blues: Kyle Bartley 22, Mitch Hancox 71