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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 September, 2003, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Blues inflict Pompey defeat
Birmingham 2-0 Portsmouth

Stephen Clemence bundles in his effort at the far post while Pompey's Amdy Faye watches on

Birmingham made their best start to a league season courtesy of their win over Portsmouth at St Andrews.

Stephen Clemence and Stan Lazaridis each scored for Blues who are now unbeaten in their opening six Premiership games.

The current run overtakes the record Birmingham set in the 1948/49 season while Portsmouth were left to reflect on their first away defeat of the season.

The early exchanges were a low key affair with Birmingham keeper Maik Taylor punching away a Steve Stone effort while Mikael Forssell went close with a shot for Birmingham.

KEY MOMENTS
21 mins: Clemence puts Birmingham ahead
50: Lazaridis extends Blues' lead

But Clemence sparked some life into the game with the opening goal after 21 minutes.

Clemence missed a penalty in midweek when Birmingham were knocked out of the League Cup by Second Division Blackpool.

But the midfielder atoned for his miss by bundling in at the far post after a cross from Lazaridis.

Blues forward Christophe Dugarry began to impose himself on the game and this coincided with a spell of increased pressure from the home side.

Dugarry almost set up a second but his pull-back for Lazaridis was just behind the left winger.

Portsmouth striker Yakubu Ayegbini fends off Birmingham midfielder David Dunn
Pompey striker Ayegbini (left) had a goal disallowed

And the French forward would have scored with a header from a Lazaridis corner but for Stone's clearance off the Pompey line to again deny Birmingham.

The visitors had seen Teddy Sheringham almost convert a Matthew Taylor cross earlier and thought they had scored an equaliser five minutes before the interval.

Sebastian Schemmel and Sheringham combined to set up Yakubu Ayegbini to score only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.

It took Steve Bruce's side five minutes to add to their lead after half-time.

This time Clemence was the provider as he played a long ball into the path of a Lazaridis run and the Australian confidently put Birmingham two-up.

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp brought on striker Jason Roberts and played with three up front to try and salvage something from the match.

And they almost did as Birmingham sat back on their lead.

Alexei Smertin forced keeper Taylor into a smart save before Sheringham struck the woodwork with a well-struck 25-yard shot.

But that was as good as it got for the visitors as Birmingham held on for the win and a club record.


Birmingham: Taylor, Johnson, Cunningham, Upson, Clapham, Dunn, Savage, Clemence, Lazaridis (Tebily 84), Dugarry (Cisse 71), Forssell (Figueroa 87).
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Morrison.

Booked: Cisse.

Portsmouth: Hislop, Schemmel, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Zivkovic, Stone, Faye (Sherwood 65), Taylor (Roberts 55), Smertin, Sheringham, Ayegbini.
Subs Not Used: Wapenaar, Foxe, Primus.

Booked: Faye, Sheringham, Sherwood.

Attendance: 29,057

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).





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