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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 16:55 GMT
Birmingham 2-0 Wigan
Birmingham defender Mario Melchiot celebrates putting his side 2-0 up
Birmingham breathed new life into their battle for survival as they secured a morale-boosting victory over Wigan.

The impressive Jermaine Pennant nodded them in front, beautifully directing Jiri Jarosik's floated cross from the left past Mike Pollitt in off the post.

Mario Melchiot doubled the lead, coolly slotting in from six yards after Wigan failed to clear a Pennant corner.

Wigan struggled to create any clear-cut chances and Emile Heskey volleyed wide as Birmingham could have added a third.

It would have been difficult to predict such a result after the first 10 minutes, for it was Wigan who started the brighter of the sides while Birmingham began nervously.

Henri Camara made his intentions clear with a rasping 30-yard drive that whistled past the post, and he and Jason Roberts were causing their usual problems for Birmingham's defence.

Roberts thought he should have had a penalty when he went down in the box but referee Phil Walton barely even acknowledged the Latics' frontman.

Slowly but surely Birmingham, roared on by a partizan crowd, began to get a grip on the game as Jarosik and Pennant began to see more of the ball in midfield.

And they combined brilliantly to put the Blues ahead, Jarosik's inviting cross from the left landing on Pennant's head and the little winger sending it into the net via Pollitt's right-hand post.

By half-time, Birmingham boss Steve Bruce was in dreamland. Pennant's corner was poorly defended by Wigan and the ball fell kindly to Melchiot to slot in from six yards.

Penannt was running the show and David Wright, making his first Premiership start as a replacement for Leighton Baines at left-back, simply could not live with his pace and directness.

Wigan did have more possession after the break but they lacked their usual spark in attack, and it was Birmingham who created the better chances.

Heskey should have done better with a mis-hit volley from eight yards, while another dangerous Pennant cross was bravely headed away from danger by Gary Teale.

Wigan boss Paul Jewell brought on David Connolly and Graham Kavanagh to try to rouse his side, but their lethargy remained and in truth they never looked like making a game of it.

Camara's woeful late volley that flew miles over pretty much summed up their day in the Midlands.

  • Birmingham assistant manager Eric Black:
    "We've played well recently. We were the better team at Spurs, did well against Manchester United and Chelsea and carried it on here.

    "It's a great start to the year and it was vital we claimed all three points.

    "Our home form will be crucial to us staying up. We've been poor here but we're finally addressing it now."

  • Wigan boss Paul Jewell:
    "We didn't get a reaction. We were lacklustre, we were flat. Call it what you want, we weren't very good.

    "Birmingham won't have an easier 2-0 win all season. They were edgy early on but we didn't win tackles, headers - didn't really do anything.

    "I don't want this to continue. If it does, we won't win another game."

    Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Melchiot (Martin Taylor 45), Cunningham, Upson, Lazaridis, Pennant, Izzet (Kilkenny 84), Johnson, Gray, Jarosik (Pandiani 74), Heskey.
    Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Butt.

    Booked: Heskey.

    Goals: Pennant 20, Melchiot 33.

    Wigan: Pollitt, Chimbonda, Henchoz, De Zeeuw, Wright, Bullard (Kavanagh 73), Francis, Skoko (Teale 45), McCulloch (Connolly 71), Camara, Roberts.
    Subs Not Used: Filan, Jackson.

    Booked: Chimbonda, McCulloch.

    Att: 29,189.

    Ref: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

    Interview: Birmingham's Mario Melchiot

    Interview: Wigan boss Paul Jewell

    Interview: Birmingham coach Eric Black


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