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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
Birmingham snatch dramatic win
Stern John scored a late winner for Birmingham
John (centre) celebrates his goal for Birmingham
Millwall 0-1 Birmingham (1-2 on aggregate)

Stern John scored the only goal of the game in injury time to book Birmingham's place in the Division One play-off final - and end Millwall's promotion dream.

The Trinidad & Tobago international had missed several good chances to score during the game but made amends with his last-gasp winner.

  Key moments
38 mins: Bull clears off the line for Millwall
51 mins: Dublin shoots wide from six yards
90 mins: John scores for Birmingham
Millwall had their chances too - Tim Cahill headed against the crossbar from short-range and Dion Dublin shot wide when well placed.

But Steve Bruce's team held their nerve throughout a scrappy game at the intimidating New Den and will now play Norwich in the Division One play-off final.

The victory ends a lengthy play-off jinx for Birmingham, who had lost at the semi-final stage for the previous three seasons.

I'm delighted for my staff, the supporters and the players
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce
With so much at stake, the game had not surprisingly began at a frantic pace with both teams desperate to seize the initiative.

But chances were at a premium and it was not until the 38th minute that the game produced a meaningful scoring opportunity.

Martin Grainger's corner for Birmingham was headed goalwards by Olivier Tebily.

But Lions defender Ronnie Bull brilliantly chested the ball off the line to deny Bruce's team.

In first-half injury time Tebily again connected with a Grainger corner, but his header flew inches wide.

And seconds later a Millwall corner caused chaos in the Birmingham penalty area.

Nico Vaesen came off his line but failed to collect the ball and Jeff Kenna then got little distance on his defensive header.

The ball spooned to Tim Cahill, but he headed against the crossbar from three yards.

Birmingham's Geoff Horsfield was industrious in attack
Lawrence challenges Horsfield
Dublin then missed a golden opportunity to score for Millwall after 51 minutes.

Vaesen dropped a straightforward cross and the ball broke to Dublin - who shot wide with the goal seemingly at his mercy.

With poor finishing emerging as a defining characteristic of the match, John missed a great chance for Birmingham after 56 minutes.

The former Nottingham Forest forward was through on goal after nipping the ball off Lawrence's head on the half-way line.

But after charging goalwards at high speed he blazed his shot over the crossbar from the edge of the Millwall area.

Steve Claridge then shot wide for Millwall while Horsfield headed wide and later flicked just over the crossbar under pressure from Purse.

It was a very close game - I thought before the game it was going to be one goal that won it.
Lions boss Mark McGhee
With extra-time looming John had a great opportunity to play substitute Stan Lazaridis through but chose to shoot himself and missed the target.

But the pacy striker atoned for his greed with a dramatic winner.

Grainger hooked the ball back into the Lions penalty area after his initial corner had been cleared.

The ball broke to substitute Steve Vickers on the left, who drove a powerful shot across the face of the goal.

And John smashed it home from short range to spark scenes of delirium amongst the Birmingham supporters.

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Bull, Nethercott, Ward, Ifill, Cahill, Livermore, Reid, Dublin, Claridge. Subs Not Used: Gueret, Harris, Kinet, Bircham, Dyche.

Birmingham: Vaesen, Kenna, Grainger, Purse, Vickers, Devlin, Tebily, Bryan Hughes, Mooney (Lazaridis 62), John, Horsfield (Andrew Johnson 84). Subs Not Used: Bennett, Damien Johnson, Carter.

Booked: Bryan Hughes, Purse, Vaesen.

Attendance: 16,391

Referee: G Laws (Whitley Bay).

BBC Sport's David Oates
"It all came right for Birmingham"
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce
"It's that bit of luck you need at the right time"
Millwall boss Mark McGee
"You feel like you've not achieved very much"
Who will reach the Premiership?



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