A Little Longer And Harder - Birmingham 0 Latics 1
We made it, our first ever win at St. Andrews thanks to a third minute goal from Callum McManaman ensured that the Latics season will be extended by at least another two games, hopefully three as we try to get back to the Premier League at the first time of asking via the playoffs.
Uwe Rösler made his traditional changes to the starting eleven, from Saturdays defeat by Blackpool, Gary Caldwell, who was a surprise inclusion, along with Rob Kiernan came in to make a back three alongside Emmerson Boyce, Jean Beausejour was pushed into a more attacking role and James Perch was playing wingback as a tweaking of the formation complemented the changes to personnel.
The Latics got the perfect start to the game, with just three minutes on the clock Jordi Gomez had the ball central just outside the Birmingham box, he passed to Callum McManaman on his left, McManaman cut inside and fired a bobbling shot that found its way through a group of defenders and past Randolph in the Birmingham goal, 0-1.
The Latics were denied a second goal after Martyn Waghorn back heeled home from close range, the referee somehow awarding Birmingham a free kick after Randolph had charged into the back of the Latics striker.
The closest Birmingham came in the first half was a wayward cross that almost caught Carson out at his far post, but the former England international produced a great save to tip the ball round for a corner.
Birmingham brought on 6' 7 striker Zigic at half time and immediately started to throw the ball forward looking for flick ons from the gangly 33 year old, the Latics held firm though and defended superbly with Gary Caldwell marshalling well on his first start for a year. With time running out Birmingham threw everything forward and in injury time had one last chance, the ball was launched into the Latics box but Carson saved well and gathered from Hayden Mullins effort.
The whistle finally blew after six minutes of stoppage time had been played and the 1,000 travelling Latics fans could celebrate with a playoff spot in the bag, Blackburn on Saturday then we'll find out if it's Derby or QPR in the semi final, with a place at Wembley for the winners and an ultimate prize of promotion to the Premier League, it's been a long hard season and it's just got a little longer and a little harder.
Unused subs - Doyle, Martin, Reilly, Gray
Latics - Carson, Perch, Boyce, Caldwell, Kiernan, Beausejour, McArthur, Gomez, McManaman (Maynard 84), Waghorn (Fortune 61), Maloney (Barnett 90)
Unused subs - Al Habsi, Crainey, Espinoza, Collison
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