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Fahey Strikes To Give Birmingham City Victory Over Coventry

Keith Fahey strikes to give Birmingham City victory over Coventry CityIt will take a lot longer than two matches for Chris Hughton to rebuild Birmingham City, not least because the demolition may not yet be complete – Cameron Jerome and Scott Dann are among the players still expected to leave St Andrew's – but the former Newcastle manager was entitled to take a measure of encouragement from this performance.

"I was pleased with the way we kept going, even if at times we lacked that final pass," said Hughton, after Keith Fahey's second-half goal had given his side all three points.

He acknowledged he did not know whether he would be allowed to spend any of the revenue raised by the expected transfers of Dann and Jerome, but the need to add to his squad was evident. The absence of the injured Marlon King, Nikola Zigic and Jerome left the 19-year-old loanee from West Brom, Chris Wood, to start alone up front for the Blues.

Neither side contrived an attempt on goal in the opening quarter of an hour, though when a chance did finally arrive, it was a good one. Birmingham's Steven Caldwell will have been as relieved that Lukas Jutkiewicz pulled his shot wide of goal from inside the penalty area as he must have been angry at the ease with which the Coventry striker turned him in the first place.

That was about it as far as the first half was concerned, but Birmingham improved after the break and should have taken the lead shortly before the hour when Wood, well inside the six-yard box and having stolen half a yard on his marker Richard Keogh, contrived to turn Jean Beausejour's low cross from the left over instead of under the bar.

Sammy Clingan, whose work rate set a formidable example for his side, made a fine block to prevent Chris Burke having a clear shot on goal from 10 yards, but Boaz Myhill almost dropped a horrible clanger when he very nearly stepped into his own goal in the act of catching Chris Hussey's misdirected cross.

Just under 20 minutes remained when the breakthrough finally arrived. The Coventry goalkeeper Joe Murphy pushed Adam Rooney's header on to the post, but the Birmingham substitute was first to the rebound and squared the ball for Fahey to sidefoot decisively home from the centre of the penalty area.

Coventry continued to battle, putting Birmingham under some pressure in the final minutes, but the lack of experience in the Sky Blues' ranks this season told, as it is likely to tell all season.

"I felt we were comfortable," said the Coventry manager Andy Thorn. "If we keep applying ourselves in that way we'll be fine."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Richard Rae at St Andrew's, for The Observer on Saturday 13th August 2011 17.11 Europe/London

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