Clayton Donaldson and Lukas Jutkiewicz came to Birmingham’s rescue with two late goals to earn a 2-1 Sky Bet Championship home win against a battling Sheffield Wednesday side.
Donaldson converted an 80th-minute penalty to record his fourth successive goal in Blues’ last four league games and substitute Jutkiewicz snatched the winner three minutes from time.
They were opportune goals as the Owls had taken a 76th-minute lead through substitute Gary Hooper and had appeared to be on course for their first away win since last April before Birmingham’s late goal burst.
Birmingham went into the game in fourth spot on the back of some good performances reminiscent of last season when they were promotion challengers for a spell before slipping away badly in the last two months.
It was a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday which sparked the decline and there was an obvious desire to make amends on this occasion.
But Wednesday’s early positive play was an indication of their potential danger.
They created problems for Birmingham and the South Yorkshire club were only denied an early lead by a brave save from Adam Legzdins.
Maikel Kieftenbeld lost possession and Ross Wallace took advantage of Blues being caught on the wrong foot with a quick pass into the path of Fernando Forestieri, only for goalkeeper Legzdins to race out and block the close-range shot.
Playmaker Barry Bannan then attempted a rather ambitious long-range effort which was easily dealt with by an over-worked Legzdins.
Wednesday’s increasing pressure appeared to make Birmingham’s defence vulnerable with Wallace in particular a persistent threat.
In sharp contrast Birmingham could not find an attacking shape and struggled to penetrate the Owls defence.
On the one occasion Donaldson cleverly set up Jacques Maghoma and the former Burton player appeared to have been fouled by Tom Lees in the penalty area.
But Maghoma had pushed the ball wide to Che Evans who was robbed as he was about to shoot and the chance to take the lead disappeared.
This incident appeared to inspire Birmingham to lift their game and suddenly they created an attacking impression which ultimately disappeared early in the second half when Wednesday strived to break the stalemate.
On the hour Birmingham gambled with a double substitution, sending on Greg Stewart and Reece Brown for Kieftenbeld and David Davis.
It gave them more attacking options but Wednesday’s defence remained rock solid with goalkeeper Keiren Westwood making an easy save from Maghoma when the youngster had a clear shot on target.
Donaldson, who had scored in each of Birmingham’s last three Championship games, was sadly out of touch. When he did have a reasonable chance of scoring he fluffed each opportunity.
They proved expensive as in the 76th minute Wednesday took the lead. Steven Fletcher stumbled but the Scot quickly recovered and produced a defence-splitting pass as he back-heeled the ball into the path of Hooper who slid the ball home despite a desperate attempt to save by Legzdins.
Donaldson, however, atoned for his previous indifferent finishing when he won a penalty after being brought down by Westwood and duly converted the spot-kick in the 80th minute to the relief of the home fans.
And there was more late drama as Jutkiewicz was on hand to head home a right-wing cross from Maghoma three minutes from time.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal could not hide his disappointment with the result.
He said: “I do not remember one occasion when my goalkeeper Keiren Westwood had to make a real save before Birmingham’s two late goals.
“This is why I am frustrated because in the game we created chances and didn’t score.
“I do not want to comment about the penalty. It is a referee’s decision.”
Carvalhal dismissed concerns about Wednesday’s away form as they have now gone 10 games on the road in all competitions without a victory.
He said: “I am very happy with our form. We are playing fantastic but not scoring. We again had five good chances against Birmingham.
“If we were not playing well I would be concerned. We play to win but we need to improve our finishing.”
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