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Birmingham easy winners as Pool limp into 2012

Birmingham City
3 - 0

St Andrews

December 31, 2011, 15:00

Attendance: 19,995


Blackpool endured yet another bad day at the St Andrews office as they were easily beaten 3-0 by Birmingham City and had Barry Ferguson sent off.

Curtis Davies opened the scoring in first half stoppage time and the game was safe seven into the second half when Marlon King added a second. Nathan Redmond finished the scoring with a matter of minutes to go.

The fixture had gone from bad to worse for the Seasiders five minutes after the second goal. Ferguson was sent off for an apparent elbow and Ian Holloway was sent to the stands for remonstrating with the fourth official following the decision.

Blackpool made just one change from the Boxing Day win at Barnsley with the injured Lomana Lua Lua replaced in the starting eleven by Elliot Grandin.

And they failed to get going all day long, with Chris Hughton's side creating all the chances in the opening 45. It wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination but City were able to make headway down their right hand side with Stephen Crainey looking particularly exposed.

Pool had to weather a number of storms, with the front pair of Zigic and King proving a real handful, but failed to hold out until half time, which in the end proved crucial.

Chris Burke's corner wasn't dealt with by the tangerine back four and central defender Davies powered home a header to make it 1-0.

Matt Phillips stung the palms of Boaz Myhill early on in the second period but that was it as an attacking threat and they were facing the other way for the majority of the game from thereon in.

The points were safe on 52 minutes when Marlon King latched onto a throughball with the away back four playing an extremely high line. The striker - who was booked for an elbow on Ian Evatt earlier in the piece - was clean through and slotted his shot easily past Mark Howard.

Howard though has been a revelation for Holloway in the last few days. The former Arsenal stopper was brilliant at Oakwell and for all intents and purposes was sensational this afternoon. Filling in for the injured Matt Gilks, the goalkeeper made a string of smart stops, showing he's well capable of providing competition for the Scotland international.

But for all the goalkeeper's good work, there was no way back after Barry Ferguson controversially saw red. The captain was adjudged to have elbowed Guirane N'Daw - an incident that seemingly nobody saw, apart from Nikola Zigic, who wasn't happy with the midfielder's challenge.

Referee Pawson has previous when it comes to dismissals. His last outing was the infamous Burnley win at Brighton earlier this month and Ferguson's red was Pawson's eighth of the season.

Holloway was so incensed with the decision that he was promptly sent to the stands and could face a touchline ban at Fleetwood Town next week.

Chris Basham, Tom Ince and Kevin Phillips were all introduced but the damage had already been done. Although it's easy to be warming when you're 2-0 up, Phillips was given a tremendous reception when he was brought on - a stark contrast to the treatment Ferguson received by the Midlands crowd.

To their credit, Pool kept plugging away and did well to keep the score down. On another day it could've been much more than three, but they did succumb to intense pressure. Nathan Redmond fired home from the edge of the box to wrap up a comfortable victory.

Birmingham are strong on their own patch - nobody has come away with three points so far this season - and it was always going to be a tough afternoon. But the lack of attacking threat will be disappointing to the manager.

To compound that, there was also a soft underbelly to the tangerine defensive shape and they afforded the home team too much time and space. In hindsight Basham should have perhaps started ahead of Grandin - expect the defensive midfielder to come in on Monday.

The good news is that Liverpool defender Danny Wilson has joined the club on loan until the end of the season and will go straight into the squad for that game. He won't be here to sit on the bench and you would expect one of Evatt or Craig Cathcart to give way eventually. Evatt is on nine bookings and once he serves the inevitable two-game suspension, the big man could struggle to find a way back.

Blackpool now sit in ninth place in the Championship after being leapfrogged by Crystal Palace and Burnley - four points off the top six but there are plenty of reasons to look to 2012 with plenty of enthusiasm.

Date:Saturday December 31 2011
Time: 5:07PM

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