Birmingham City 1 – 0 Sheffield United
The script was almost written for him.
Kevin Phillips, City’s summer signing from West Bromwich Albion, had previously netted on his debut for three of the five clubs encompassed in his career.
And ominously, he made it four out of six by netting the late winner – leaving Blades manager Kevin Blackwell frustrated.
United and Birmingham, both tipped by the bookmakers to make an impression on the final table in May, slugged it out in a game devoid of many clear cut chances that was apparently bound for a stalemate, until Phillips popped up as a substitute and bagged the winner in injury time.
Despite the close attention of Blades captain Chris Morgan, he swivelled and fired a low shot into Paddy Kenny’s left hand corner.
Phillips wheels away after scoring the winner
Picking the ball out of his net, deep into the 92nd minute of the game, was all Kenny had to do all afternoon, save for a few deep crosses from the impressive James McFadden. Former Blade Marcus Bent threatened United’s rearguard early on but Morgan and defensive partner Matthew Kilgallon stood strong and protected their goal. The latter was forced to take evasive action following a corner – the ball broke invitingly to a blue shirt inside the penalty area, forcing Kilgallon to throw himself at the ball and deflect it clear. Handing debuts to Darius Henderson, Sun Jihai and Greg Halford, and suprisingly only naming David Cotterill on the substitutes bench, Blackwell stated his ‘frustration’ at the sucker punch after looking good for a point from the game.
“I’m going to give Kevin all the credit because I’m so frustrated at the moment I might say things I don’t want to say,” Blackwell told Sky Sports after the game.
“I thought we were very well organised. I don’t think they caused us too many problems,” said Blackwell.
“I thought we gave a good performance, so in terms of that I’m pleased.
“We had to come here and put a marker down, everyone knows we’re a decent side, and hopefully we will get some luck at the end of the season when we need it.”
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