Birmingham extended their unbeaten run in the Sky Bet Championship to six games with a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at struggling Barnsley.
Scott Hogan’s second-half goal, set up by teenage sensation and star man Jude Bellingham, gave the visitors the three points at Oakwell.
Both sides made one change to their starting line-up. Callum Styles replaced Luke Thomas for Barnsley and Jefferson Montero took the place of Jeremie Bela, who dropped to the bench for Blues.
The visitors spurned a golden opportunity inside four minutes when Bellingham’s corner found Hogan unmarked – but his flick was lifted just over.
Apart from Hogan’s missed chance, opportunities were scarce in the opening stages.
Cauley Woodrow tried his luck from 20 yards but his right-footed strike arrowed wide.
A counter-attack then sparked Barnsley’s next chance, Jacob Brown carried the ball from deep in his own half before laying off to Jordan Williams, whose low strike had to be well watched by Lee Camp.
Sloppy defending from the Birmingham backline allowed Woodrow to find Styles in the penalty area and he struck a curling effort which Camp tipped over.
The Tykes were producing some slick football in the final third. Brown weaved his way past a couple defenders before punching his effort low at goal which Camp fumbled but claimed at the second time of asking, preventing Conor Chaplin from having an easy tap-in.
Hogan then had his second big chance, the on-loan Aston Villa striker racing onto a Gary Gardner through-ball which left him one-on-one with Brad Collins, but had his low effort repelled by Collins.
Chaplin fired a speculative effort at goal just before half-time, which went wide.
Bellingham was Birmingham’s brightest player and he nearly provided an opening for the visitors when he evaded tackles in midfield and charged forward before skewing his shot off target.
The second half was lacking any real clear-cut chances and much like the first half it was Barnsley who were controlling the play.
However, the visitors made the decisive breakthrough in the 76th minute after Bellingham chased down what seemed a lost cause. The 16-year-old harried Williams and dispossessed the Barnsley full-back before finding Hogan, who turned neatly inside the box and found the top corner with a clinical left-footed strike.
Barnsley had little time to respond and struggled to create much in the latter stages, meaning they are now without a win in five league games.
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