Birmingham deep in trouble after defeat

by AFP on May 16, 2011

0 comments | | print

Birmingham's bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League will go down to the final day of the season after Brede Hangeland's double gave Fulham a 2-0 win at St Andrew's on Sunday.

Alex McLeish's side produced a woeful display in their last home game of the season and remain above the bottom three only on goal difference heading into next Sunday's match at Tottenham.

The League Cup holders are level on points with third bottom Blackpool and second bottom Wigan, setting the stage for a nerve-shredding finale.

Blackpool are away to Manchester United in their last match, while Wigan travel to Stoke.

Only poor finishing prevented Fulham from at least doubling the final victory margin as Bobby Zamora, Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey tormented the Birmingham defence.

To add to Birmingham's woes, Lee Bowyer, Stuart Parnaby and Martin Jiranek all had to be substituted through injury and then Alexander Hleb limped off to leave them playing with 10 men for the final 13 minutes.

Dempsey missed a great chance to put Fulham ahead after two minutes. Johnson sent a low ball across the six-yard area and Dempsey spooned his shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Blues looked nervous and Ben Foster had to parry aside a massive clearance from Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer at full stretch.

But from the resulting corner defender Hangeland put the Cottagers in front from Jon Greening's corner.

Fulham were threatening to score every time they ventured forward and Johnson glanced a header wide from Greening's cross.

The Cottagers came close to doubling their lead after half an hour when Zamora crashed a header against the post from a Greening free-kick.

City almost levelled after 34 minutes when Jiranek's flick grazed the outside of a post from Parnaby's left-wing centre.

But Fulham were soon back on top as Zamora missed two great chances.

He got on the end of an Aaron Hughes centre but directed his header straight at Foster from close range.

Then Zamora found himself with only Foster to beat but failed to chip over him.

Fulham were in complete control and Sidwell crashed a low shot against the post with the home defence in disarray.

It came as no surprise when Hangeland made it 2-0 after 49 minutes. Zamora's header was cleared off the line from Greening's corner but Hangeland pounced to tuck away the rebound.