x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Blues are in seventh heaven

Birmingham stretched their astonishing unbeaten league run to 11 matches as Stoke suffered another dose of the goal-shy blues at the Britannia Stadium.

Birmingham stretched their astonishing unbeaten league run to 11 matches as Stoke suffered another dose of the goal-shy blues at the Britannia Stadium. Cameron Jerome's bundled 50th-minute effort was enough to separate the sides, and enough also to equal Birmingham's longest stretch without defeat in the top flight going back 101 years to 1908. Remarkably, on that occasion Birmingham were relegated, but there is surely no chance of that happening this time around after a run of seven wins and four draws to lift the Blues up to seventh place. Europe may not be out of the question.

As the final whistle sounded there were boos and jeers from the Stoke fans, in contrast to those from the visiting supporters who chanted "We are unbeatable". Unlike Birmingham, who have 32 points from 20 matches, Stoke face a relegation battle unless they find a cure for their ills in front of goal. Manager Tony Pulis has made it clear that unless his side improve on a woeful tally of just 15 goals in 19 matches then a battle to beat the drop beckons.

There was little to commend in the opening 45 minutes. Stoke had more possession, but neither goalkeeper had even a routine save to make. Mercifully, the second half was more of a contest, and the first 15 minutes after the restart had more action than in the whole of the opening 45. The goal for the Blues was out of the blue and there was more than a little luck involved, with Jerome managing to bundle the ball in during a goalmouth scramble. Man of the match: Cameron Jerome (Birmingham)