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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

QPR 0 Birmingham 2 - Reports & Comments

Birmingham beat QPR to move top of second division

Birmingham City moved top of the English second division on Tuesday with a 2-0 win at struggling Queen's Park Rangers despite having a player sent off. Reuters

Queens Park Rangers (0) 0 Birmingham City (1) 2

Birmingham had talked of the need to be more clinical in matches after another narrow win on Saturday, and they were almost made to pay the price for failing to finish off Queens Park Rangers last night.

Leading by Bruno N'Gotty's first-half header, a succession of chances came and went for the visitors before striker Nicklas Bendtner was sent off for a second yellow card 20 minutes from time. Cue a tense finale, when Steve Bruce's side really should have been out of sight, until substitute Cameron Jerome lobbed in an impressive second late into added time.

Eric Black, the Birmingham assistant manager, said: "It was a difficult game. We couldn't get that elusive second goal, and then the sending-off obviously gets the crowd going. We had to hang on and defend a fair bit.

"If we're getting opportunities, though, that's the main thing. D J Campbell was magnificent tonight. We'd like the second goal quicker, but we're not overly worried."

Birmingham, level on points with Cardiff and Wolves at the top of the Championship at kick-off, settled first. Sebastian Larsson, standing in impressively at left-back, fired in a long-range effort, then in the 21st minute N'Gotty glanced a corner wide. His sighter out of the way, minutes later the French centre-back headed home Gary McSheffrey's inswinging free kick to give Birmingham a deserved lead. Campbell, who was released by Rangers as a boy, thought he had a taste of revenge after burying the ball in the corner from 15 yards, only to be pulled up for handball.

Danish striker Bendtner – the quietest of Birmingham's trio of loan signings from Arsenal after Larsson and Fabrice Muamba – made his mark on the game midway through the second half.

Having just burst clear to set up Campbell with an effort that he rattled against a post, Bendtner was then booked twice in a matter of minutes.

First he talked his way into a yellow card via a spot of dissent, then an arm up on Marc Bircham meant an early bath. Black said: "That had a massive impact on the game. Nicklas said something happened with the player, and he retaliated with his arm to just push him away."

In the 79th minute, clever interplay on the right between Neil Danns and Jerome set up the lively McSheffrey for a spectacular overhead effort. Fortunately for Rangers it fell to the winger's weaker right foot, and the shot went wide.

A nervy final 10 minutes ensued for Birmingham as a committed Rangers probed for an opening, but they ultimately failed to force Maik Taylor into a save of note.


Jerome strike sees Birmingham complete slow rise to the top
Rob Smyth at Loftus Road Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian

It has taken Birmingham a while to find their feet in the Championship but now they have landed exactly where most neutrals expected - in top spot. After a series of laboured victories they gave their most convincing performance of the season last night, outclassing and outmuscling Queens Park Rangers. It was hairier than it needed to be thanks to Nicklas Bendtner's needless sending-off but, having reached the top, few will be surprised if Birmingham stay there.

Steve Bruce has purpose-built a side for the rugged terrain of the Championship: two flinty centre-halves in Bruno N'Gotty and Radhi Jaidi, two menacing, jet-heeled attackers in Gary McSheffrey and DJ Campbell, and the natural-born finisher that is Cameron Jerome, who came off the bench to lob a sublime first goal for the club in injury-time.
"We don't think we're firing on all cylinders but we're delighted to be where we are," said Eric Black, the Birmingham assistant manager. "It takes time for Premiership players to adjust to the Championship because it's a different type of game. Now they're getting an idea of what's expected and I thought the two centre-halves were exceptional tonight."

Rangers have won one of their past 18 league games and looked lost from the moment they went behind in the 23rd minute, when the criminally unmarked N'Gotty battered in a header from McSheffrey's lovely, curling free-kick. They had little to offer even when Bendtner received two yellow cards in quick succession just after the hour, for dissent and retaliation; they barely extended the Birmingham keeper Maik Taylor.

"I'm not panicking," said their manager Gary Waddock unconvincingly. "I thought we were in the game for long periods of time, but two mistakes have cost us again. We have to start picking up points, though. I'm not that silly - I know it's a results-based business."

Bruce knows that too and, provided Birmingham stay at the top of the table, he will not care how they do it.

N'Gotty puts Birmingham on course to high ground
By Bill Edgar

Queens Park Rangers 0 Birmingham City 2

STEVE BRUCE criticised his players’ showboating against Hull City at the weekend, but last night the Birmingham City team who navigated their way to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship were strictly tugboats.

A workmanlike performance ground out a win achieved despite the sending-off of Nicklas Bendtner, the young Denmark striker, whose indiscipline showed that he is a Danish Blue who has yet to mature.
Bendtner, on loan from Arsenal, received two bookings in a minute midway through the second half, the first for dissent and the second for raising an arm in retaliation against Marc Bircham. Having dominated until then, taking the lead through Bruno N’Gotty’s first-half header, Birmingham withstood a sustained Queens Park Rangers rally until Cameron Jerome’s lob in the final seconds confirmed their victory.

Bendtner has impressed in scoring three goals this season and Eric Black, Bruce’s assistant, said that the 18-year-old would learn from his sending-off. “He’s a young lad with a massive talent,” Black said. “It’s experience for him. It [the red card] had a massive impact on the game. People ask if we’ve got passion — that was answered without question today.”

The better team until Bendtner’s departure, Birmingham took a 23rd-minute lead when N’Gotty headed home Gary McSheffrey’s curling free kick. The latter also tested Paul Jones, the QPR goalkeeper, after wriggling away from three opponents, while D. J. Campbell struck the inside of a post and shot straight at Jones when sent clear by David Dunn.

Jerome scored his first goal for the club since his £3 million move in the summer from Cardiff City when he pounced on an error by Matthew Rose, but QPR also gave hope to their fans. “Everyone wrote us off before the game, but we put in a reasonable performance,” Gary Waddock, the manager, said.

At half-time, Waddock sent on Ray Jones, 6ft 4in, to form a forward partnership with Marc Nygaard, who is an inch taller, demonstrating that the club that gave Peter Crouch his break in football have a fondness for giant strikers. But it was Birmingham who scaled the heights in the table

The Independent

Queen's Park Rangers 0 Birmingham City 2: Jerome strike puts Birmingham top
By Conrad Leach Published: 13 September 2006

Birmingham City were deservedly beaten by Cardiff City in late August but Steve Bruce's Blues reclaimed first place in the Championship from the Welsh side with this straightforward victory. In contrast, Queen's Park Rangers now lie one off the bottom, having won only once this season.
That Birmingham achieved victory despite playing with 10 men for the last 13 minutes showed up the west Londoners' deficiencies in even greater relief and emphasised Birmingham's credentials as the division's front-runners.
After relegation from the Premiership, the Midlanders are showing no signs yet of a sophomore slump.
Both teams here displayed a laudable insistence on playing - or attempting to play - a neat, short-passing game but it was still somehow inevitable that when the first goal came it was not from a one-two around the penalty area.
Nicklas Bendtner, the Danish striker on loan from Arsenal, was the recipient of the red card but when he was on the pitch he was involved and was brought down after 24 minutes. From the ensuing free-kick 35 yards out, taken by Gary McSheffrey, the midfielder drifted the ball in behind the home defence. Bruno N'Gotty, the central defender signed in the summer from Bolton, has certainly scored harder goals than the one he headed in from eight yards out.

QPR were slow to react. It was not unexpected that they should concede the advantage to one of the favourites for automatic promotion but Loftus Road can still play a part in stirring its struggling inhabitants. However, the atmosphere was more muted than usual in this part of west London and would have been quieter still had McSheffrey's weaving run and shot seen a second goal just before the break.

However, Bruce's men were given a warning 10 minutes after the interval when Egutu Oliseh, brother of the former Juventus midfielder and Nigeria captain, Sunday Oliseh, saw his shot deflected wide off Rahdi Jaidi.

DJ Campbell's shot 10 minutes after that, which hit the post and ran across the line, was proof the Blues were not sitting back. Bendtner's dismissal for two yellow cards within 60 seconds gave QPR a glimmer of hope which finally disappeared in injury time when Matthew Rose failed to deal with a high clearance.

Cameron Jerome still had his back to goal and plenty to do but swiftly turned and lobbed Paul Jones with an expertly judged shot, leaving Eric Black, Bruce's assistant, to say: "It's nice to be where we are [top] and the players deserve enormous credit for the work they've put in."

QPR's manager, Gary Waddock, stayed upbeat. He said: "I felt we put in a reasonable performance but two mistakes cost us dearly."

BBC - QPR 0-2 Birmingham

Birmingham climbed to the top of the Championship after seeing off QPR, despite Nicklas Bendtner's red card.

The Blues took a first-half lead when Bruno N'Gotty - who had earlier gone close - headed past Paul Jones.

DJ Campbell had a goal ruled out for handball, while David Dunn and Neil Danns both saw shots deflected wide.

Campbell hit the post before Bendtner was dismissed for two quick bookings, but the Blues sealed the win when Cameron Jerome lobbed in at the death.

QPR: Paul Jones, Rose, Rehman (Baidoo 74), Stewart, Milanese, Oliseh, Bircham, Ward, Cook, Nygaard, Blackstock (Ray Jones 45).
Subs Not Used: Cole, Bailey, Kanyuka.
Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Johnson, Jaidi, N'Gotty, Larsson, Danns, Dunn (Kilkenny 76), Muamba (Martin Taylor 90), McSheffrey, Campbell (Jerome 71), Bendtner.
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Forssell.
Sent Off: Bendtner (68).
Booked: Johnson, Dunn, Bendtner.
Goals: N'Gotty 23, Jerome 90.
Att: 10,936.
Ref: P Melin (Surrey)

QPR 0 Birmingham 2
By Mike McGrath, PA Sport

Birmingham swept to the top of the Coca-Cola Championship after beating QPR but were forced play the last quarter of the match with 10 men after Nicklas Bendtner picked up two yellow cards in as many minutes.

Bruno N'Gotty's first-half header opened the scoring at Loftus Road as Steve Bruce's men maintained their bid to get back into the top flight at the first attempt.

Bendtner had looked impressive in attack for the visitors but received two cautions in quick succession midway through the second period, the first for dissent and the second for an aerial challenge.

However, Bruce's men held on despite late attacks from the hosts, who came closest through a deflected effort from Egutu Oliseh which dipped just wide of the post, with substitute Cameron Jerome lobbing home a second in stoppage time.

Of the attacks QPR did launch, Lee Cook was at the heart of their more promising, the midfielder collecting a wayward clearance from David Dunn but tumbling over rather than shooting from the edge of the area after three minutes.

Seven minutes later Cook broke forward but his final pass lacked quality when he had team-mates in support.

The visitors mustered the first effort on goal, although Bendtner's drilled shot was going not on target and DJ Campbell, who played at Loftus Road as a schoolboy, could not control the drive.

Gary McSheffrey's wicked delivery from set-pieces looked the most likely source of a goal, and after 21 minutes his corner was headed wide by N'Gotty, but the former Bolton centre-back made no mistake three minutes later.

McSheffrey's left boot again provided the chance, this time from a free-kick on the left flank, and N'Gotty headed powerfully past Paul Jones, the French defender opening his account for his new side after a summer switch.

Cook then had a long-range volley easily held by Maik Taylor but it was Birmingham who were looking likely to double their lead.

Campbell finished well but had his effort ruled out for handball while bundling his way past Damion Stewart, while Dunn and Neil Danns both had efforts deflected wide as half-time approached.

Damien Johnson was booked for a foul on Dexter Blackstock, with Taylor saving Marc Bircham's free-kick, but Birmingham looked in control at the interval.

QPR boss Gary Waddock responded by taking off Blackstock for promising striker Ray Jones, but it made little initial difference as the youngster lost the ball and Fabrice Muamba eventually volleyed over.

Muamba's chance was set up by the pace of Campbell, and the striker ran at the hosts' defence again in the 48th minute before finding Dunn, whose powerful effort from 25 yards was parried by Jones.

Dunn, busy throughout, is enjoying a run in the team after long-term injury problems, but his enthusiasm resulted in a booking after 51 minutes when he hacked at Bircham.

Oliseh's deflected shot dipped just wide for the hosts but it was Birmingham who carried more threat going forward, Campbell hitting the post after 64 minutes when Bendtner crossed from the right.

Bendtner was cautioned in the 67th minute when he protested to Paul Melin when he wanted a penalty, then barely a minute later was given another yellow card, this time for an aerial challenge.

QPR striker Jones went close late on with a header but Birmingham held on for victory, with substitute Jerome muscling in during injury time and lobbing home for a second.
Sporting Life


Gary Waddock was critical of the defending which, in his own words, 'gifted' Birmingham victory at Loftus Road.
"The players have got a responsibility to mark at set-pieces and they didn't do it for their first goal.
"The second goal should've been dealt with too, so in my opinion we've gifted them both goals.''
Bruno N'Gotty and Cameron Jerome sent the Blues to the top of the Championship table - despite Steve Bruce's men having Nicklas Bendtner sent off in 67th minute.
But Waddock has backed his players to bounce back: "I'm right behind these players and they are with me. We'll work our socks off to get this right.
"Marc Bircham was outstanding, as he was against Plymouth on Saturday.
"Ollie showed glimpses of what he's capable of, but we need to start picking up points at the end of the day.''
Waddock added: "We've lost the game 2-0, but I honestly believe the scoreline doesn't reflect how well we played.''
QPR Official


Ten-man Birmingham City moved to the top of the Championship thanks to goals from Bruno N'Gotty and Cameron Jerome at Loftus Road.

Steve Bruce's side leapfrogged Cardiff at the summit of the division, despite playing the final 23 minutes with ten-men in W12.

Nicklas Bendtner saw red for two bookable offences, and although Rangers enjoyed the lion's share of territory and possession in the second half, the 'shots on goal' column ultimately told the story, with the R's failing to register a single effort on target throughout the 90 minutes.

N'Gotty's unstoppable header separated the two sides at the break, before Jerome put the icing on the cake in stoppage time.

Rangers threatened in patches during the first period, with the instrumental Marc Bircham at the heart of their most positive play.

Gary Waddock named an unchanged side after the 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, which meant Mathew Rose retained the captaincy.

The R's gaffer yet again showed faith in the Club's youth policy by including five youngsters on the bench, namely Jake Cole, Pat Kanyuka, Stefan Bailey, Shabazz Baidoo and Ray Jones.

Steve Bruce opted for the tried and tested front-two of Nicklas Bendtner and Dudley Campbell, which meant Mikael Forssell and Cameron Jerome had to make do with places on the substitute's bench.

The first opening of the contest fell the way of the hosts on two minutes.

David Dunn's misplaced place fell at the feet of Lee Cook on the edge of the 18-yard box, but instead of letting fly, the left winger took one too many touches and Birmingham cleared their lines with ease.

Dunn was soon in the groove though, showing his undoubted class with a fine piece of close control on the left flank that left two Rangers defenders trailing in his wake.

But it was Rangers who were playing the more expansive football and when Marc Nygaard, Nicky Ward and Cook combined in the eighth minute, only a poor final ball from the latter prevented Egutu Oliseh from testing Maik Taylor.

Birmingham's first shot in anger arrived on 19 minutes, but Arsenal loanee Sebastian Larsson got his effort horribly wrong, dragging his right foot strike well wide of Paul Jones right hand post.

Former Bolton defender Radhi Jaidi squandered a glorious chance two minutes later, heading wide from six yards after being gifted the freedom of the penalty box from a corner.

But his central defensive partner N'Gotty made no mistake 60 seconds later, powering an unstoppable header past the exposed Jones from little more than five yards.

In truth, Rangers only had themselves to blame, with more poor marking proving to be their downfall.

Undeterred, the R's were by no means overawed by their former Premiership opponents, with Cook forcing Taylor into a fine save with a dipping 25-yard volley.

Blues boss Bruce was up in arms on 33 minutes, when Campbell broke through the last line of the Rangers defence. Fortunately for the Hoops, referee Mr Melin adjudged the former Yeading man to have used a hand in getting clear of Stewart and his superb finish was ruled out.

The lively McSheffrey was proving a constant threat and when he nicked the ball off the toe of Oliseh, Jones was down well to hold his fizzing right foot shot at his far post.

Blues skipper Damien Johnson entered the referee's notebook for a late lunge on Dexter Blackstock on 38 minutes and from the resultant free-kick, Taylor did well to hang on to Bircham's set-piece, albeit at the second attempt.

Buoyed by that chance, the R's finished the half on top, with Oliseh teasing Larsson one way then the other, only to see Taylor snuffle the cross with Nygaard and Blackstock ready to pounce.

Neil Danns' deflected effort forced Jones to dive at full stretch across his goal on the stroke of half-time, before the impressive Dunn blasted a piercing volley inches wide from fully 22-yards.

Waddock was forced into one change at the break, with Ray Jones replacing Blackstock - the former Southampton front-man the victim of a groin injury.

Dunn picked up where he left off at the end of the first half, powering a fizzing volley at Jones, which the Welshman did well to palm to safety.

The Welsh number one was in the right place at the right time again on 49 minutes, saving at his near post from Larsson's teasing free-kick.

But it was by no means one-way traffic and when Ward found Oliseh - playing in an unorthodox left sided role in the second half - the winger seemed destined to draw Rangers level, only for a cruel touch to deflect the ball inches wide of Taylor's left hand post.

Play quickly switched to the other end, with Jones saving well from the impressive Campbell after a breathtaking Blues counter-attack, before Nygaard headed a half chance wide on the hour.

Campbell should've made the game safe for the visitors on 64 minutes, but when he got goal-side of Zesh Rehman, his powerful strike from five yards cannoned off the foot of the post before flying across the face of goal.

The Blues were reduced to ten men on 67 minutes, after Arsenal loanee Bendtner received two yellow cards in as many minutes.

If the first for dissent angered Bruce, the second 60 seconds later for raising an arm in the direction of Rose would've left the former Manchester United defender raging.

Waddock threw caution to the wind seven minutes later, introducing Baidoo at the expense of Rehman and switching to a 3-5-2 formation in the process.

But it was Birmingham who continued to pose a greater threat in the attacking third, with substitute Cameron Jerome firing high and wide from the edge of the box.

Jones nearly drew the R's level with four minutes left on the clock, but his deft header effort flew over the bar to the obvious relief of the flat-footed Taylor.

And Baidoo did his best to raise the tempo moments later, turning Larsson inside-out, only for his piercing cross to evade Nygaard, Jones and the onrushing Ward.

But it was Blues' second half substitute Jerome who had the last laugh when he lobbed Jones in the dying minutes, after Rose's decision to let the ball bounce cost Rangers any chance they had of gaining something from the contest.

QPR: P Jones, Rose, Rehman (Baidoo 74), Stewart, Milanese, Oliseh, Ward, Bircham, Cook, Blackstock (R Jones 46), Nygaard.

Subs: Cole, Bailey, Kanyuka.

Birmingham City: Taylor, Larsson, Dunn (Kilkenny 75), Campbell (Jerome 70), Danns, N'Gotty, Johnson, Jaidi, Muamba (Taylor 94), Bendtner, McSheffrey.

Subs: Doyle, Forssell.
Scorers: N'Gotty 23, Jerome 91
Bookings: Johnson 38, Dunn 51, Bendtner 66 & 67
Red Cards: Bendtner 67
Attendance: 10, 936
Referee: Mr P W Melin


Bruno N'Gotty and Cameron Jerome scored their first goals for Blues to secure an excellent away victory to put Steve Bruce's boys top of the table, despite the second half dismissal of Nicklas Bendtner.

N'Gotty's first half goal put Blues on their way but Bendtner's sending off midway through the second half threatened to undo all the good work.

However, Jerome's injury time goal sealed the points as Blues pulled away clear at the top of the Championship courtesy of Darren Purse's late own goal at Plymouth that prevented Cardiff from picking up maximum points.

There were two changes to the Blues side with Neil Danns making the starting line-up at the expense of Julian Gray.

It meant another reshuffle to the side with Seb Larsson dropping to left-back for the first time this season.

N'GottyAlso back in the side was Fabrice Muamba in his expected midfield role at the expense of the injured Mehdi Nafti.

Blues started brightly forcing two corners early on but neither Gary McSheffrey or David Dunn could create an opening for the visitors.

In the ninth minute burly centre-half N'Gotty was on hand to head clear Marc Bircham's outswinging corner.

Moments later Dunn cleared Lee Cook's free-kick to keep the home side at bay.

Blues' first shot came on 20 minutes with a weak effort from long range by Larsson that rolled wide.

Bruno N'Gotty goalMidway through the half McSheffrey picked out the unmarked N'Gotty but he failed to meet the target with his header.

Just over a minute later N'Gotty made amends as he headed Blues into the lead.

It was the same combination again, only this time McSheffrey picked him out again from a free-kick and N'Gotty made no mistake with his header from eight yards.

On the half-hour mark Dunn continued to show his defensive qualities with another clearance from Bircham's free-kick.

Bruno N'GottyA minute later Maik Taylor was tested for the first time with a rising volley by Paul Cook from 25 yards that saw the Blues number one handle safely.

Moments later Bendtner had a great chance to double the lead but took too many touches and the chance was gone.

In the 38th minute McSheffrey had another attempt to break his duck but once again the keeper was equal to the task with Paul Jones saving safely.

Five minutes before half-time Damien Johnson was the first man in the book for a wild challenge on Dexter Blackstock who was racing towards the penalty box.

N'GottyBircham swung the free-kick into the box where Taylor fumbled but was able to gather at the second attempt.

Dunn almost doubled the lead in injury time with a fierce volley that Brummie Zesh Rehman blocked for a corner.

McSheffrey's resultant kick proved to be the last action of the half.

Half-time: QPR 0 Blues 1

QPR made one change for the re-start with Ray Jones replacing the injured Blackstock.

David DunnBlues had a chance early on with DJ Campbell getting clear before slipping and then recovering to set up Bendtner.

The ball was eventually cleared to Muamba who hit his shot high into the Blues fans in the top tier.

In the 52nd minute Dunn was the second Blues man in the book for a foul on Bircham.

The further the game went on, the more the need to increase the slender one-goal lead became apparent as Blues sought to put away the home side.

Ten minutes into the half Campbell tested keeper Jones with another effort from 12 yards.

JaidiMarc Nygaard worried the Blues fans on the hour mark when he headed just wide from just inside the box.

Campbell went even closer in the 64th when Bendtner teed up his strike partner but his shot rebounded back off the post.

Disaster struck in the space of two minutes when Bendtner received a yellow card and then a red following an altercation with Matthew Rose.

Both bookings were needless and Steve Bruce showed his disdain for the young striker by ignoring him as he trudged off.

Bruce then replaced the tireless Campbell with fit-again Jerome coming on to lead the line on his own.

This now left Blues in a situation that once again they should never have been in.

BendtnerIn the 73rd minute Gary Waddock threw on striker Shabazz Baidoo for defender Zeshan Rehman in a bid to grab something from the game.

Minutes later Dunn was replaced with the fresh legs of Neil Kilkenny.

In the 78th minute Danns set up McSheffrey for a spectacular scissor kick that flew wide of the target.

Despite Blues being a man down they still carved out chances and McSheffrey was guilty of being greedy, choosing to shoot from a tight angle instead of passing to Jerome.

Moments later QPR substitute Jones went close with an overhead kick for the home side but still Blues managed to maintain the one goal advantage.

A couple of minutes later Jones went close again, this time with his head but the same end result.

Two minutes before the end Nygaard got clear of Larsson and fired the ball across the box but failed to pick out any of his team mates bombing into the box.

Cameron JeromeBlues fans' hearts were in their mouths but the visitors worries soon turned into joy as Jerome doubled the lead.

The substitute got off the mark when he latched onto Maik Taylor's long clearance before hooking the ball over keeper Jones.

Bruce threw on Martin Taylor for Muamba in the dying seconds.

As the final whistle blew the 1,300 loyal Blues fans celebrated as the Cardiff result filtered through confirming their place clear at the top.

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