First-half goals seal 2-1 win
Two first-half goals sealed an excellent away win for Blues as they beat promotion chasing Port Vale 2-1 at Vale Park.
The run without a first-half goal in League 2 since Dagenham & Redbridge on Boxing Day ended when Sean Clohessy coverted from the penalty spot.
Britt Assombalonga made it 2-0 with a deflected strike just after the half hour mark.
Lee Hughes gave the hosts hope as he headed home in the 64th minute
With Paul Sturrock absent through illness, Graham Coughlan took charge of Blues and one change was made from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Rotherham as Mickey Spillane replaced the injured Danny Mayor.
There was also a slight shift in formation as Blues opted for a 4-3-3, hoping to make the most of the big pitch at Vale Park, as Bilel Mohsni started on the left wing, with Kevan Hurst on the right and Assombalonga through the middle.
Clohessy was handed the armband for the second time, and it was he who finally ended Blues’ run of not scoring a first-half goal in the league as he converted from the penalty spot.
Darren Purse brought Matt Lund down in the box after he had reacted quickest to Assombalonga’s ball into the box. Clohessy stepped up and struck an excellent penalty into the top corner.
Assomabalonga could well have doubled the lead with just 20 minutes gone, but he failed to sort his feet out quick enough after Mohsni had played him in with a quick free-kick.
The striker then headed wide from Ryan Leonard’s cross as Blues looked to double their advantage.
With half an hour gone, Assombalonga got his goal. Clohessy played it in to the striker’s feet before turning Purse, driving towards goal and firing past Chris Neal with the aid of a deflection.
Blues were defending very well, as Port Vale failed to create an clear cut chances, and it was almost 3-0 on the stroke of half-time.
Lund, excellent throughout, slid in to win the ball back and lay it off for Leonard who crashed a shot from 20-yards against the underside of the bar.
Blues started the second-half in similar fashion to the first; Mohsni going close to making it 3-0 with a header at the back post, but it went just wide.
Frustrations were growing for the home side as Hughes, Sam Morsy and then substitute John McCombe were all booked.
The hosts rallied though and in the 64th minute they pulled one back. Chris Shuker’s cross was met by the head of Hughes, who header smartly past Paul Smith.
The goal had given the hosts hope and they almost levelled in the 76th minute when substitute Chris Birchall found space, but shot straight at Smith.
Hughes then almost grabbed his second of the game but saw his volley deflected behind off Luke Prosser before Smith denied the striker with an excellent save.
Morsy had the chance to level for the hosts late on, but curled just over, and Blues held on to pick up a vital three points.
Blues: Smith; Clohessy, Creswell, Prosser, Straker; Lund, Spillane, Leonard; Hurst, Mohsni (Harris), Assombalonga (Corr).
Subs not used: Eastwood, Bentley, Woodyard, Spicer