A deflected goal from 16-year-old Jude Bellingham sealed all three points for Birmingham City against struggling Stoke City this afternoon.
The result, the Potters fifth defeat in six in the Championship this season, will heap the pressure on under-fire boss Nathan Jones. However, it’s tough not to have some sympathy for him after the way this played out.
Even though the first-half was largely forgettable, it was the visitors who had the better of things, with Lee Gregory firing straight at Lee Camp when a long clearance from Danny Batth had sent him through.
Aside from that, there was little else to report for much of the half. Peter Etebo kept things ticking over for Stoke in the middle and Lee Gregory worked tirelessly but they looked pretty toothless, with Tom Ince once again disappointing.
For the hosts, Pep Clotet had gone with an adventurous 4-4-2 but whilst he clearly had attacking attentions, it didn’t work out.
Blues struggled to do a thing in the opening 45 minutes and their problems were compounded when Jefferson Montero was stretched off just under 30 minutes into his first start for the club, with teenage talent Bellingham replacing him.
Clotet will feel aggrieved that his side didn’t get a penalty just before the break though, with Danny Batth seeming to throw Alvaro Gimenez to the ground but the shock of St. Andrew’s, nothing was given.
However, the sides went in goalless and few probably saw the second half that we had coming.
Sensing an opportunity to pick up a first three points this season, Stoke played with more purpose and a brilliant bit of play between Etebo and Sam Clucas saw the latter feed Gregory through and his shot beat Lee Camp but came back off the post. Joe Allen was charging in to get the rebound but he couldn’t adjust properly and his strike hit the side netting.
With the pressure building, Stoke then took what they will have felt was a deserved lead in the 58th minute.
Tommy Smith, who had knocked in a teasing delivery earlier, hit a great free-kick to the back post that took out the entire defence and centre-back Liam Lindsay had the simple task of heading home.
The home fans were now hugely frustrated but Stoke didn’t push on after taking the lead and dynamics of the game changed instantly.
Blues responded immediately after going behind and Gimenez had a decent chance with his head but he put it wide, whilst Batth was forced into two strong defensive clearances as the hosts pushed.
Lukas Jutkiewicz wouldn’t be as wasteful as his strike partner though when his first opening of the game arrived.
The big target man was found by Maxime Colin in the 73rd minute with a delightful cross and his header went into the ground and bounced up to the roof of the net to pull Clotet’s men level.
With Stoke on the ropes, Blues went for the kill and minutes later Bellingham’s big moment came.
Whilst the finish was fortunate, he did superbly well to get in a shooting position after a fine run and his weak effort completely wrongfooted Adam Federici to give Blues the advantage.
Ince had a chance to equalise after some sharp play in and around the box but other than Stoke couldn’t muster much.
They head into the international break four points away from safety and it will be interesting to see if Jones is still in charge when they face Bristol City in two weeks after another disappointing day.