Approaching the fixture against Nottingham Forest in unconvincing form, two victories out of a possible eight to be precise, Birmingham City’s hopes of achieving an automatic promotion spot have been dealt a setback in previous weeks and their fortunes appeared to plunge when Kevin Philips limped off after 31 minutes with a hamstring strain. Nevertheless, Marcus Bent and Keith Fahey, the PFAI Player of the Year who was signed from St Patrick’s Athletic in January, ensured that the three points were wrapped up and it was an outcome that relieved the fans as much as the man at the helm, Alex McLeish. Birmingham leaped ahead of the chasing pack into second place and only three points behind a stumbling Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Short-lived cameos have been the source of frustration for Marcus Bent and two goals in the Championship season prior to the weekend encounter with Forest demonstrates the disappointment on an individual basis for the striker. An industrious display, however, saw Bent execute his strengths to almost perfection, triumphing in every single mid-air contest and possessing a hard-working ethic that will have won him support at a time when Gary McSheffrey and Garry O'Connor are welcomed back from injury, eager to prove a point or three. With injuries plaguing squads nationwide at such a pivotal phase of the season, the strength of a squad is fundamental in the drive for promotion and the encouraging performances of Bent, Murphy and Fahey will allow McLeish to retain the confidence that he has the personnel to finish in the top-two hierarchy.