(Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick)
Goals from Lee Novak, Nicola Zigic, Callum Reilly and Matt Green gave Birmingham City a comfortably 4-0 friendly win against Shamrock Rovers on Monday night.
The first meaningful chance of the game came in the ninth minute. Shamrock Rovers captain Pat Sullivan gave the ball straight to Lee Novak, who passed it to Chris Burke. Burke played it to his left to Nicola Zigic on the left edge of the area but his right-footed went just wide.
Birmingham City took the lead in the 18th minute. Zigic played a fine ball into the Rovers area for Lee Novak to race in behind the home defence and slot the ball into the corner of the net past substitute goalkeeper Richard Brush, who had come on for the injured Barry Murphy.
The Hoops created their first chance soon after. Billy Dennehy crossed from the left for new signing Eamon Zayed to meet it with his head, but he couldn't keep his effort on target and the ball ended up wide of the post.
Zayed had another chance just passed the half hour as Karl Sheppard swung in a cross from the right. The ball eventually broke to Rover's number 27 in the box and he tried a snapshot but Darren Randolph did well to push it away for a corner.
Zigic doubled the visitor’s lead in the 35th minute. Callum Reilly played it to his left to the Serbian striker who found himself in space and he curled a right foot shot which hit the post before finding its way into the net.
Lee Clarke's side went three up just before half-time. Chris Burke and Lee Novak were both involved in the move before Callum Reilly picked up possession on the edge of the area. Reilly's shot took a deflection off Shane Robinson before hitting the back of the net.
Trevor Croly's team had an opportunity to pull one back early in the second half. Mark Quigley played it to his right to Sheppard who tried to pull it back for Zayed in the box, but Jonathan Spector was in the way to clear it away for a corner.
Substitute Matt Green made it 4-0 to Birmingham City in the 57th minute and Burke was again involved. This time he crossed from the right and he picked out Green who headed into the net from six yards out.
Both sides made a number of substitutions as the half progressed. The changes appeared to disrupt the flow of the game, which was also held up for about five minutes as Green received treatment for what looked like a serious injury, which led to him being stretchered off.
Substitute goalkeeper Colin Doyle, who replaced the injured Green in an unnatural outfield position, would have tapped the ball into an empty net late on if Ken Oman had not got in the way to intercept. Doyle also struck a late freekick, which beat the wall but was straight at Brush.
Birmingham held out for a comfortable victory. However both Trevor Croly and Lee Clark may well be more concerned by the fact that both Barry Murphy and Matt Green went off injured for their respective sides.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy (Richard Brush 16); Pat Sullivan (c) (Stephen Rice 60), Jason McGuinness, Derek Foran (Ken Oman 46), Danny Ledwith; Conor McCormack, Shane Robinson (James Chambers 68); Mark Quigley (Ronan Finn 68); Karl Sheppard, Eamon Zayed, Billy Dennehy (Sean O'Connor 46).
Subs not used: Gary McCabe, Thomas Stewart, Stephen Confey, Sean Heaney.
Birmingham City: Darren Randolph; Neil Eardley (Wade Elliott 42), Johnatan Spector (Mitch Hancock (58), Hayden Mullins (Kyle Bartley 58), Paul Robinson (c) (Dan Burn 58); Chris Burke, Callum Reilly (Koby Arthur 58), Oliver Lee, Liam Davis (Darren Ambrose 58); Lee Novak (Matt Green 54 (Colin Doyle 83)), Nicola Zigic (Andrew Shinnie 58).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris Burke (Birmingham City).
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