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27 April 2013

Edwards, Chambers and Murphy all on target as Blues secure Championship safety


Town secured their place in the Championship for next season after comfortably beating Birmingham 3-1 at Portman Road, in the final home game of the campaign.

First half strikes from Carlos Edwards and Luke Chambers saw Blues go in ahead at half-time, before Daryl Murphy sealed the win with a third Town goal midway through the second half.

Chris Burke came off the bench to grab a consolation goal for the visitors late on, but Town held firm to take all three points.

Mick McCarthy handed a start to Elliott Hewitt, who replaced the injured Richard Stearman at right-back in the only Town change.

Town came flying out of the blocks and Birmingham stopper Jack Butland was called into action after just three minutes, showing sharp reflexes to tip a Daryl Murphy header over the bar following a Jay Tabb corner.

However the ‘keeper could do nothing to prevent Edwards firing Blues in front after six minutes, as the Town skipper unleashed a right-footed effort from 30 yards that rocketed into the top corner of the net.

The visitors thought they had pulled a goal back two minutes later, as Nikola Zigic header home from close range, but the linesman had raised his flag to signal the striker was in an offside position and the strike was chalked off.

That was to cost Lee Clark’s side as Town doubled the advantage after 17 minutes. Aaron Cresswell whipped in a delicious ball from the left-hand side with Chambers gleefully heading through the legs of Butland from six yards out.

Blues thought they had extended the lead further shortly after, as Murphy fed Nouble through on goal, and the striker kept his composure to slot home although his celebrations were cut short after being flagged offside.

The second-half was just as entertaining as the first and both sides had chances to score within five minutes of the restart.

Hayden Mullins fired over the bar for the visitors after being teed up by Nathan Redmond, before Guirane N’Daw lashed an effort wide of the target at the other end for Town.

And it wasn’t long until Town had the ball in the net again, with Murphy getting himself on the scoresheet on 56 minutes.

Nouble’s effort was deflected into the path of Murphy and the Celtic loanee made no mistake in finding the bottom corner, with a great finish on the turn leaving Butland with no chance.

Redmond was proving to be a handful for the Town defence though and the winger twice forced Scott Loach into low saves.

But Blues were looking for more goals and a neat move saw Murphy cross to the back post but Luke Hyam was just unable to add a finishing touch after escaping is marker.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, on as a late substitute for Murphy, then went close for Town in the closing stages but he could only fire wide of Butland’s near post after skipping away from a couple of challenges.

The visitors did pull a goal back in the final minute, however, with substitute Burke firing beyond Loach from close range to reduce the deficit.

But it wasn’t to matter, as Town secured their place in the division with a dominant display and will now finish the season away at Burnley next week.

 Town: Loach, Hewitt, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N’Daw, Hyam, Tabb (Martin 83), Nouble (Chopra 82), Murphy (Emmanuel-Thomas 82), Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Kisnorbo, Wordsworth, Drury.

Booked: Smith, Martin

Birmingham: Butland, Caddis, Davies, Robinson, Hancox, Mullins (Gomis 60), Redmond, Elliott (Burke 60), Morrison, Ferguson, Zigic. Subs not used: Doyle, Reilly, Caldwell, Ambrose, Lovenkrands.

Att: 21,921 (1,977 away fans)

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