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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Birmingham reach Premiership
Birmingham celebrate their return to the big-time
Birmingham celebrate their return to the big-time
Norwich 1-1 Birmingham (aet)
(Birmingham win 4-2 on penalties)



Birmingham City's 16-year exile from the top-flight of English football ended thanks to teenager Darren Carter.

The 18-year-old kept a cool head to slot home a fourth and clinching penalty to win the shoot-out after a thrilling First Division play-off final.

Substitute Iwan Roberts headed Norwich ahead two minutes into extra-time, only for Geoff Horsfield to equalise nine minutes later.

The deadlocked teams went into a dramatic shoot-out where Blues' goalkeeper Nico Vaesen saved Phil Mulryne's penalty and Daryl Sutch fired wide.

  Shoot-out drama
Roberts scores, 1-0.
Stern John scores, 1-1.
Vaesen saves from Mulryne, 1-1.
Devlin scores, 1-2.
Sutch misses, 1-2.
Laziridis scores, 1-3.
Easton scores, 2-3.
Carter clinches it, 2-4.

Successful spot-kicks from Stern John, Paul Devlin and Stan Laziridis set Carter up to strike the decisive penalty.

Birmingham held the initial superiority with Martin Grainger driving a 20-yard free-kick over the bar and Bryan Hughes shooting wide when well-placed.

Such was the intensity of Birmingham's early pressure it was 13 minutes before Norwich mustered their first attack, with Mark Rivers' cross deflecting off Grainger for a corner.


Birmingham fans have been waiting for this for a very long time - I was a fan and I know how much it means to them
Birmingham's Darren Carter

Stern John broke clear on 14 minutes to screw his shot wide with only goalkeeper Robert Green to beat.

As Norwich gained the initiative, hesitation between Michael Johnson and goalkeeper Nico Vaesen allowed David Nielsen to nip in and toe-poke an effort just wide.

Gary Holt's surging thrust at the heart of the Birmingham defence then popped the ball up for Rivers to cross for Clint Easton who volleyed wide.

In first-half injury-time Norwich keeper Green produced a stunning point-blank save from Horsfield's powerful volley.

Green had to react sharply at the start of the second-half to save from Olivier Tebily.

Birmingham's Michael Johnson and Norwich striker David Nielsen battle it out
Michael Johnson (left) and David Nielsen show no quarter

Norwich responded and Vaesen was forced to tip over from Paul McVeigh who then turned provider, crossing for Nielsen to head wide from 10 yards.

Adam Drury slid in to block John's shot and when Easton was harshly called for handball by referee Graham Barber Paul Devlin fizzed a shot inches over the bar.

Birmingham mounted a strong finish and Tebily spurned a chance when he fired over from six yards out.

In injury-time, Birmingham skipper Jeff Kenna saved an almost certain goal as he intercepted substitute Alex Notman's cross just ahead of Iwan Roberts.


I thought the game was magnificent and thankfully we've had that little bit of luck you need in a penalty shoot-out
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce

Roberts was on target two minutes into extra-time, perfectly directing a powerful header home after Grainger's slip gave Notman the chance to cross.

The lead lasted nine minutes as the pendulum swung towards Brimingham again. John climbed at the far post to nod the ball down for Horsfield to head home.

Back came Norwich, and Vaesen clawed away Phil Mulryne's free-kick which was bound for the top corner.

In a dramatic finale Blues defender Michael Johnson came within inches of winning it two minutes from time when he thumped a header against the post.


Birmingham: Vaesen, Kenna, Vickers, Michael Johnson, Grainger, Devlin, Bryan Hughes, Tebily, Mooney, Horsfield, John. Subs: Bennett, Lazaridis, Andrew Johnson, Damien Johnson, Carter.

Norwich: Green, Kenton, Mackay, Fleming, Drury, Rivers, Mulryne, Holt, Easton, Nielsen, McVeigh. Subs: Iwan Roberts, Notman, Sutch, Libbra, Crichton.

Referee: G Barber (Tring).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Ron Jones
"A truly exhilarating game"
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce
"I must have aged 10 years in the last 30 minutes"
Norwich boss Nigel Worthington
"I'm very proud of my players"

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