Date: 26th October 2008 at 2:17pm
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Wednesday’s away day blues continued at Birmingham as Alex McLeish’s table-topping Blues came out relatively comfortable 3-1 winners at St Andrews on Saturday.

Etienne Esajas had levelled for the Owls early in the first half after James O’Connors early opener for the hosts, as the game looked to be heading towards a competitive encounter.

But it took City just a matter of minutes to regain the advantage, again through O’Connor, and they never looked back as another goal from Kevin Phillips before half-time completed the scoring and Jimmy Smith’s sending off gave Wednesday little hope of a second half fightback.

Owls’ boss Brian Laws made wholesale changes to the side that put in such a disappointing performance in the 2-1 defeat at Barnsley in midweek.

Skipper Richard Wood returned to the heart of the defence in place of the injured Mark Beevers, Peter Gilbert reverting to left-back and Lewis Buxton makinh his second start since arriving on loan at right-back following Middlesbrough recalling Tony McMahon.

Wingers Esajas and Jermaine Johnson also returned to the starting eleven, as did Steve Watson in the heart of the Owls’ midfield, and Leon Clarke started up front with Deon Burton only making the bench.

The game started in rapid fashion, with the hosts keen to keep their place at the top of the Championship and Wednesday desperate to bounce back from the midweek defeat to keep their place in and around the top-six spots.

O’Connor had the first clear cut chance from a Seb Larsson cross but his header drifted wide of Lee Grant’s goal to the relief of the Wednesday defence, who weren’t to be so lucky in the remaining 83 minutes.

It was the same duo for Birmingham who linked again on eleven minutes to find the breakthrough, Larsson putting in a dangerous free-kick for O’Connor to steer his header by Grant and in to the back of the net after further poor making from the Wednesday defence.

To the Owls’ credit, instead of crumbling they bounced back immediately with a superb effort from Esajas, as Watson set up an effort from a free-kick to see the Dutchman drive a 20-yard thunderbolt by Taylor to the delight of the travelling Wednesday fans.

The goal will have given Laws’ troops the confidence they needed to kick on in the game and try and end their poor form on the road.

But Wednesday’s fragile defence allowed the hosts in again just a matter of minutes later to regain the advantage as O’Connor was once again left unmarked to double his tally on 15 minutes.

And from then on it was all Birmingham, with Lee Grant and the rest of the Wednesday defence having to work overtime to keep the hosts out, and they did, for a short time at least, although Phillips and O’Connor both went close again.

Phillips was showing signs of his form of old with Sunderland and West Brom and the veteral striker was showing that he’s still more than capable of competing, and doing what he does bet in scoring goals, at this level, and he made Wednesday pay with a goal of his own before the break.

A throughball cut the Wednesday defence and Phillips powered through before beating Grant while one-on-one to put Birmingham 3-1 up and leaving Wednesday with a huge mountain to climb to get anything from the game.

A sole effort from Jermaine Johnson was all the visitors had to show for their efforts as they went in to the break 3-1 down.

And it was Johnson who was brought off at half-time by Laws to be replaced with Wade Small on the wing.

Wednesday did enjoy an improved start to the second half, keeping the hosts out from adding a fourth in the opening minutes before Clarke went close to reducing the arrears and giving the visitors the chance of an unlikely comeback as he beat Martin Taylor and scrambled an effort goalbound before Liam Ridgewell cleared the danger.

But all in all, Wednesday were fortunate to come away with a scoreline as it was, as Birmingham continued to cause more problems for Lee Grant than Wednesday did of his opposing number.

Queudrue connected to Larsson’s in-swinging corner but Grant made a superb save to deny the former Middlesbrough man from adding to City’s tally, while Kemy Agustien also came close to adding a fourth.

And Wednesday’s task was made even tougher when on-loan Chelsea midfielder Jimmy Smith was shown red for an elbow on Stuart Parnaby.

Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Parnaby, Martin Taylor, Ridgewell, Queudrue, Larsson (Nafti 75), Carsley, Agustien, Jerome (McFadden 65), O’Connor, Phillips (Bent 82). Subs Not Used: Doyle, Quashie.

Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Spurr, Wood, Gilbert, Johnson (Small 46), Watson, Smith, McAllister, Esajas, Clarke (Burton 86). Subs Not Used: O’Donnell, Jeffers, Simek.