Crystal Palace 1-0 Birmingham

Crystal Palace earned their first home win since October with a hard-fought victory over Birmingham.

Kagisho Dikgacoi scored the winner with seven minutes to go with a near-post header from a Darren Ambrose cross.

Until Dikgacoi's intervention it was the goalkeepers who were on top. Palace's Julian Speroni pulled off a top class save from Stephen Caldwell.

And Boaz Myhill dived full-length to palm out Aussie Mile Jedinak's stinging 25-yard volley in the first-half.

Carling Cup semi-finalists Palace had lost just one of their 10 home games this season while Birmingham had been beaten in six of their 10 away games so far.

Ambrose returned to the starting line up for Palace to replace suspended teenage winger Wilfried Zaha and the Blues welcomed back skipper Stephen Carr.

The game sprung into life after 20 minutes when Birmingham midfielder Nathan Redmond let fly from outside the box.

His stunning drive caught Speroni off guard but the Palace keeper managed to scramble the ball away for a corner.

Two minutes later and it was Blues' keeper Myhill who was put to the test, pulling off a brilliant reflex save from Jedinak.

Palace kept up the pressure and only an expertly-timed tackle from David Murphy prevented Nathaniel Clyne opening the scoring after a clever one-two with Sean Scannell.

Jedinak went in the book for unsporting behaviour just before half-time but Murphy's free-kick went straight into the hands of Speroni.

Davies received a yellow after 65 minutes for bringing down Scannell on the edge of the box. Ambrose lined up the free-kick but his right-foot shot went straight into the wall.

Palace were camped in the Birmingham box for most of the second half, and Paddy McCarthy thumped the ball against the side of the post.

And their pressure paid off in the 83rd minute when Ambrose curled in a precision cross from the right.

Dikgacoi outjumped the defence on the edge of the near-post goal area to direct the ball over the helpless Myhill.

Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman:

"It was a fantastic header and Darren put in a fantastic cross.

"Everyone understands the game plan, we've no big stars, no heroes, we win and lose together and tonight underlined that.

"We kept on plugging away, we refused to let one in our net and we had the desire to put one in Birmingham's net."

Birmingham manager Chris Hughton:

"In the last 20 minutes I still thought we would get a draw at least. It could have gone either way.

"We have gone through a lot of games in a short period of time, but these are the things we need to get on with.

"Over the 90 minutes I thought we deserved to get more out of the game. But we didn't defend their opportunity well enough."

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