Albion 0 Birmingham City 1
Albion suffered their first home defeat of the season at the hands of Birmingham City this evening, with Chris Burke's first-half wonder strike proving the difference.
Albion boss Gus Poyet was forced into making three changes ahead of the game, which provided Stephen Dobbie with his full debut, but his side could not find their normal continuity against the Blues - on the rebound from a shock 5-0 defeat seven days ago.
The game took a while to come alive with both sides feeling for a hold in the game, but Albion thought they had created their first goalscoring opportunity when Dobbie slid a cute ball through for Will Buckley.
The Albion winger got to the ball first six yards out but linesman John Magill swiftly rose the flag for offside to defuse the attack.
The visitors - under the guidance of Lee Clark - looked content to sit deep and wait for their chance on the counter-attack and Poyet's side had to remain patient.
But the home side created another rare opening thanks to some swift passing between Gary Dicker, Buckley and Dobbie but the latter's half-volley dragged narrowly wide.
Then on 27 minutes the Blues got their opportunity they had been waiting for and they made no mistake. A long free-kick into the box was partially cleared by Gordon Greer but dropped to the feet of Chris Burke, and the experienced midfielder riffled the ball into the top left corner.
Poyet's Championship leaders seemed rocked by the goal and just two minutes later Birmingham had another glorious chance to double their lead.
Former Newcastle United attacker Peter Lovenkrands played in Leroy Lita one-on-one with Tomasz Kuszczak but the QPR loanee scuffed his shot and the Albion keeper smothered the danger.
Poyet went down the tunnel early to prepare his half-time team talk to the troops and that midway break gave the Albion boss longer than normal to ponder his thoughts as the Amex experienced a temporary electricity failure.
The second half was delayed for 20 minutes while the floodlights powered up once again, and it was Albion who came out of the darkness the brighter, flooding forward in search of the goalscoring spark.
Manchester City loanee Wayne Bridge was the Seagulls' greatest influence going forward from left-back and it was his low cross from the by-line which almost pulled Albion level, but Curtis Davies deflected the ball wide of the far post.
Poyet reshuffled on the hour introducing David Lopez at the expense of Adam El-Abd; Dean Hammond dropped to centre-half. And moments later Kazenga LuaLua replaced Will Buckley.
LuaLua proved useful down the left and when he breached the Birmingham defence he burst into the box, but Jonathan Spector sent him tumbling with a clip to his ankle. West Midlands referee Oliver Langford saw nothing wrong with the challenge which incensed the Albion players, bench and supporters in
Poyet's men continued to plough forward in search of the equaliser but in truth the visiting defence proved resilient throughout the evening and saw out a narrow victory.
Albion: (4-3-3) Kuszczak; Calderon, Greer, El-Abd (David 61), Bridge; Bridcutt, Dicker, Hammond; Barnes, Dobbie, Buckley (LuaLua 72). Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Dunk, Painter, Harley, Agdestein.
Birmingham City: (4-4-2) Butland; Robinson, Davies, Caldwell, Spector; Burke, Elliott, Fahey, Lovenkrands (Redmond 70); Lita (King 87), Packwood (Mullins 81). Subs not used: Doyle (GK), Ambrose, Hancox, Zigic.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Yellow Cards: Greer (Albion), Elliot (Birmingham City).
Attendance: 26,121 (1,111 Away).