Stephen Gleeson strikes the crucial blow for Birmingham
An inspirational substitution worked wonders for Birmingham and paved the way to a 1-0 Championship home win over Blackburn following a second-half goal from Stephen Gleeson.
Not for the first time this season have Birmingham been indebted to a substitute playing a key role in their success.
On this occasion Diego Fabbrini had only been on the pitch for one minute when he cleverly set up the move for Gleeson's winner to keep Birmingham in the promotion hunt.
Blackburn, seeking a second successive away win, had previously been watertight but succumbed to one of the best moves of the game which ended in Gleeson's goal.
Birmingham had earlier made known their intentions to pressurise a Blackburn defence which had conceded 19 goals in its previous 10 games.
There was an early scare for Blackburn's rearguard when David Cotterill easily worked his way clear on the right to arrow a cross to the far post where Jacques Maghoma just failed to make a clean contact.
Blackburn recovered from a somewhat shaky start to create several promising moves but in a game of few real chances in the opening half hour the best chance fell to Birmingham.
Cotterill, who was given plenty of scope to run at the opposition, displayed some skill when he carefully cut a pass back into the path of Gleeson only for him to blast over
There was a serious need of an increase in the general tempo as the lack of real urgency appeared to be playing into the hands of a Blackburn side which obviously aimed to contain the aggression of the home team.
Che Adams, who grabbed a crucial equaliser against Preston on Tuesday, was rewarded with a starting place but the young Birmingham striker struggled to effectively link up with Lukas Jutkiewicz which went a long way to explaining a barren first half.
The game tended to drift aimlessly although Birmingham continued to throw away chances life confetti
Gleeson was again guilty party early in the second period
Blackburn's defence was caught short of numbers following an attack which broke down.
Maghoma broke on the left and his cross found the unmarked Gleeson who inexplicably guided his shot over the bar with only Jason Steele to beat.
It could have proved an expensive miss as in the 52nd minute Adam Legzdins was forced to make a flying save to his right to keep out a goalbound effort from Marvin Emnes.
But a minute after Birmingham had introduced Diego Fabbrini (64) it was the Italian who created the opening.
He put Cotterill in possession and from the cross the unmarked Gleeson rammed his shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
Only the woodwork prevented Cotterill adding a second goal for Birmingham
From the rebound Lutkiewicz shot straight at Steele.
Source : PA