United claim a 2-1 victory at St Andrew's...
BIRMINGHAM 1 (Donaldson 53), UNITED 2 (Dallas 11, 50)
Birmingham team: Legzdins, Caddis, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds, Gleeson (Toral 61), Davis, Kieftenbeld, Cotterill (Fabbrini 75), Donaldson, Lafferty. Subs: Kuszczak, Vaughan, Solomon-Otabor, Maghoma, Spector.
United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Diagouraga, Murphy (Bellusci 87), Cook, Dallas (Carayol 82), Antenucci (Mowatt 69), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Adeyemi, Phillips.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh
Booked: Lafferty (Birmingham), Berardi, Bamba (United)
Sent-off: Alex M
Att: 16,081 (1,365 United)
The re-arranged midweek trip to Birmingham City saw United head coach Steve Evans make just one change from the narrow defeat at league leaders Burnley three days earlier, with Mirco Antenucci returning to the side in place of Mustapha Carayol.
It was Antenucci who had the first meaningful effort of the night at St Andrew’s just six minutes into the game, skipping inside of his marker before seeing his dipping shot bounce wide from 20 yards out, before strike partner Chris Wood was inches away from meeting Gaetano Berardi’s low cross with an outstretched leg following a flowing attacking move.
United had started the brighter of the two sides and duly opened the scoring after 11 minutes, Stuart Dallas leaving Adam Legzdins with no chance as his 20-yard strike whistled beyond the lunging Birmingham goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
It was a deserved lead and one which could have been doubled moments later, only for Lewis Cook’s volley to cannon back off a blue shirt inside the area after meeting Charlie Taylor’s left-wing cross.
The visitors, who were controlling the early exchanges with relative ease, continued to push forward in search of a second goal, with captain Sol Bamba towering a header over from Taylor’s deep corner.
Birmingham started to come into it shortly after the half-hour mark, with Ryan Shotton flicking David Cotterill’s free-kick wide after being found unmarked inside the area, before Jonathan Grounds cut inside to fire high and wide from the edge of the United box.
Leeds were good value for the advantage, though, and only a near-post block from Legzdins denied Cook from making it two following a swift break on the stroke of half-time.
Both sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and the second half started in frantic fashion as Dallas doubled United’s lead and his tally for the evening with a thunderous 20-yard volley within just five minutes of the restart, leaving Legzdins helpless with a real Goal of the Season contender.
But Birmingham soon hit back, halving their deficit at the opposite end just three minutes later as Clayton Donaldson forced the ball home from close-range after Cotterill’s free-kick was parried into his path.
The 1,365 travelling United supporters then thought their side had quickly restored the two-goal advantage two minutes later, only for Bamba to half-volley into the side-netting after Liam Cooper had flicked a corner into his feet at the back post.
The visitors started to crank up the pressure, though, as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Cook was in the right place at the right time to hack Grounds’ downwards header off the line from a corner, before Silvestri beat away a dipping half-volley from Kyle Lafferty and gathered the striker’s second attempt.
The Blues did have the ball in the back of the net on 75 minutes, but Donaldson was denied a second of the evening as the offside flag ruled out his precise finish into the bottom corner.
Their biggest chance to level fell to substitute Diego Fabbrini with little under 10 minutes remaining on the clock, but he blazed well over the crossbar from six yards out after being picked out by Lafferty, much to the relief of the United defenders surrounding him.
United substitute Alex Mowatt then blazed over at the opposite end, before the visitors, who were reduced to 10 men in the final seconds following a straight red card for Mowatt, withstood some further late pressure during four minutes of added time to seal a return to winning ways after four games without tasting victory.