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Irish international on target as Birmingham beat Huddersfield despite off-field uncertainty

John Eustace’s side were 2-1 winners.

Scott Hogan, file photo.
Scott Hogan, file photo.
Image: PA

BIRMINGHAM PUT THEIR ongoing off-field uncertainty to one side with a narrow 2-1 win over Huddersfield in the Sky Bet Championship at St Andrew’s.

First-half goals from Irish international Scott Hogan and home debutant Przemyslaw Placheta, on loan from Norwich, gave new head coach and former Ireland assistant John Eustace’s side a seemingly comfortable platform for victory.

But it was a different story after the break and Danny Ward pulled one back for Huddersfield as the hosts had to defend for long periods.

A proposed £36.5million takeover of the Blues by Maxi Lopez and Paul Richardson has stalled over doubts whether the businessmen have the funds to buy the near 22 per cent stake of Vong Pech in a two-year plan to seize overall control.

St Andrew’s still has the bottom tiers in two stands closed due to structural concerns despite hopes they would be open by the start of the season, significantly reducing the capacity.

However, the hosts started brightly and threatened when left wing-back Placheta cut inside Ollie Turton and saw his bobbling shot kept out in an unconvincing manner by goalkeeper Lee Nicholls on the line.

Birmingham took the lead with their next attack, in the fifth minute. Juninho Bacuna whipped in a dangerous cross from the right and Hogan got ahead of Turton at the near post to give Nicholls no chance with a stooping header from six yards. It was the 30-year-old’s first goal since January.

The lively Bacuna flashed an angled half-volley just wide from the corner of the box as Blues continued to dominate.

But goalkeeper John Ruddy, making his home debut following his free transfer move from Wolves, needed to make a superb reaction save to palm away Josh Ruffels’ blockbuster from a loose ball and preserve the home side’s advantage.

More pressure from Blues saw them go 2-0 up in the 45th minute. Hogan’s overhit cross was met by Jordan James, whose shot was blocked, and Placheta’s first-time angled follow-up was palmed into the net by the partly unsighted Nicholls.

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Sorba Thomas summed up Huddersfield’s first-half display when he finished poorly when presented with an unmarked chance from 12 yards out, after Ward missed Jack Rudoni’s cross.

However, the forward almost redeemed himself almost immediately with a cross that Ruddy was forced to tip over.

Huddersfield took the game to the home side from then on, rather than the other way round.

The visitors hauled themselves back into the contest in the 61st minute when Ward neatly slotted home after Thomas put him through following a one-touch passing move.

However, Bacuna almost snatched a third goal for the hosts at the end, when a mazy 50-yard run that took him past three players ended with a blocked shot.

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