Davies is Birmingham’s hero

Curtis Davies settled a thrilling Boxing Day contest 2-1 in

Birmingham’s favour against fellow Championship strugglers Barnsley

at Oakwell.

The centre-back nodded the visitors in front amid pouring rain

in the 35th minute, only for Jonathan Greening to equalise almost

immediately from long range with his first goal since joining on

loan from Nottingham Forest last month.

Barnsley were the better side and missed plenty of chances

against a Blues outfit who were disorganised defensively, with

Craig Davies, a boyhood Blues fan who scored four goals in

September’s 5-0 rout at St Andrew’s, blazing over a second-half

penalty after Steven Caldwell’s handball.

And the hosts were punished almost immediately as Curtis Davies,

unmarked from another set-piece, converted his fourth header in six

games to clinch matters in the 77th minute.

Barnsley enjoyed the better of proceedings early on, Jim O’Brien

seeing an effort blocked by Curtis Davies although the visitors did

force a succession of three corners in which they failed to

prosper.

Luke Steele was still to be called upon as the half-hour mark

passed, with Barnsley much the stronger.

But, out of nowhere, Curtis Davies headed Birmingham in front.

Robert Hall delivered another excellent set-piece, Birmingham’s

main threat, which Davies nodded home unchallenged at the near

post.

However, the lead did not last long as Birmingham’s frailties in

defence were fully exposed. Barnsley applied pressure almost

straight from kick-off with Dawson seeing a strike blocked and,

with the visitors struggling to fully clear their lines, the ball

broke for Greening, who converted low from distance.

The visitors’ defence was exposed again within a minute of the

restart but a swift move ended when Chris Dagnall could only slide

the ball behind.

John Stones saw an effort blocked by a late Blues tackle and,

with the game flowing from end to end, Barnsley were awarded a

spot-kick in the 73rd minute for a somewhat harsh handball decision

against Caldwell. But Craig Davies, who had only been on the pitch

five minutes, blazed his spot-kick high over the bar.

A superb stop from Jack Butland kept out a header from fellow

sub Matty Done before Curtis Davies then settled matters in the

77th minute via another inch-perfect delivery from Hall.