Birmingham stretched their astonishing unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League to 11 matches after a 1-0 win at goal-shy Stoke.

Cameron Jerome's bundled 50th-minute effort was enough to separate the sides, and enough also to equal the club's longest stretch without defeat in the top flight going back 101 years to 1908.

Remarkably, on that occasion Birmingham were relegated, but there is surely no chance of that happening this time around after a run of seven wins and four draws to lift the Blues up to seventh.

As the final whistle sounded there boos and jeers from the Stoke fans, in contrast to those from the visiting supporters who chanted "We are unbeatable".

Unlike Birmingham, who have 32 points from 20 matches, Stoke face certain relegation trouble unless they find a cure for their ills in front of goal.

Boss Tony Pulis has made it clear that unless his side improve on a woeful tally of just 15 goals in 19 matches - failing to score in five of their last six - then a battle to beat the drop beckons.

Customary effort aside on a bitterly-cold afternoon at the Britannia Stadium, there was little to commend in the opening 45 minutes.

Stoke certainly shaved it in terms of possession, but when neither goalkeeper has even a routine save to make, it gives you some idea as to the relatively tame fodder that was served.

Stoke are wholly reliant on their set-pieces - Liam Lawrence and Matthew Etherington with corners delivered from the flanks, and the typically booming throws from Rory Delap.

Lawrence and Delap were two of the five changes made by Pulis from the side beaten 2-0 at Manchester City on Boxing Day.

Three were enforced with Glenn Whelan and Salif Diao suspended, and Andy Wilkinson out with an ankle injury sustained at Eastlands, whilst Mamady Sidibe and Danny Collins were benched.

In replacing Sidibe, Pulis handed James Beattie his first start for six matches, yet the striker involved in an infamous bust-up with his manager at the start of the month, barely saw the ball prior to his departure on the hour.

The Blues certainly came under pressure early on as Lawrence and Delap peppered the area with corners and throws, only to meet a resilient Birmingham defence, the cornerstone of their current rise.

Ryan Shawcross had the best of the first-half opportunities as he was allowed to run unopposed onto a Lawrence delivery into the near post, only to glance his header through the six-yard box.

There were half chances for Stoke in the closing 15 minutes of the half for Shawcross with a header he ballooned wide and Etherington with a rising 20-yard half volley that finished a yard over the bar.

As for Birmingham, they had to wait until the 30th minute to chalk up their first effort anywhere near Thomas Sorensen's goal, and even then Jerome dragged his shot hopelessly wide from just inside the area.

There was one goalmouth scramble as Stoke finally came under a semblance of pressure and another dragged chance, this time for Sebastian Larsson, and that was as good as it got.

Mercifully, the second half was more of a contest, and the first 15 minutes after the restart had more action than in the whole of the opening 45.

The goal for the Blues was out of the blue, and perhaps in keeping with what had gone before it was hardly the sweetest of goals, not that that will bother Jerome.

There was a touch of good fortune to it as a glancing header from Scott Dann to a James McFadden corner struck the left leg of the unaware Shawcross sending the ball spinning into the six-yard box.

From three yards out, and on the turn, Jerome managed to bundle the ball home off the body of Sorensen, who was unable to prevent it from crossing the line.

The goal sparked Stoke into life, and but for goalkeeper Joe Hart they would have been on level terms before the hour.

Initially palming a Lawrence cross off the head of Tuncay, Hart quickly scrambled to his feet to brilliantly turn aside a rasping drive from Etherington.

Moments later, and with Birmingham's defence creaking, Dann then bravely threw his body in the way of a cracker from Dean Whitehead.

From the resultant Lawrence corner, Hart showed tremendous agility to tip away off the line at full stretch a powerful 15-yard header from Stoke captain Abdoulaye Faye.

Pulis threw on Ricardo Fuller and Sidibe, but Stoke could not muster another chance in the closing half hour, never mind a game-saving equaliser.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#Stoke City
#Premier League
#Cameron Jerome
#Birmingham
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