Birmingham City v West Ham United

Serbia striker Nikola Zigic condemned West Ham United to a narrow Barclays Premier League defeat at the hands of Birmingham City

The 6'8" forward, who represented his country at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, stooped to head Sebastian Larsson's left-wing free-kick into the net with 25 minutes remaining.

While West Ham enjoyed more possession and created more chances than their opponents, it was the Blues who came out on top yet again, having knocked the Hammers out of the Carling Cup at the semi-final stage last month.

West Ham would have leap-frogged their opponents and climbed out of the bottom-three with a victory, but Zigic's intervention meant Avram Grant's side would remain bottom of the standings, while Birmingham themselves rose out of the relegation zone.

Alex McLeish's visitors created next to nothing in the opening 45 minutes, with the in-form Victor Obinna - fresh from five goals in his previous two appearances - and home debutant Robbie Keane at the heart of West Ham's best attacking work.

Keane's lay-offs twice found the Nigerian in space, but his first shot was straight at goalkeeper Ben Foster and his second flew off-target.

The Republic of Ireland captain also went close before the break, working a shooting chance with a neat flick before slamming a left-foot volley over the crossbar from 18 yards.

Birmingham's best opportunities of the opening stanza came from set-pieces, but neither centre-back Roger Johnson nor Zigic could find the target with headed efforts.

Into the second half and opportunities proved difficult to come by for both teams as the match approached its final third.

McLeish chose to replace Cameron Jerome with Sweden winger Larsson with a little more than half-an-hour remaining and the move paid almost immediate dividends.

Mark Noble barged into the back of David Bentley, allowing the former Arsenal youngster to curl a free-kick over to the back post, where Zigic lost his marker to nod past Robert Green from close-range.

Grant then chose to make changes to his own side, bringing on Carlton Cole and debutant Demba Ba.

Unfortunately for the West Ham manager, his substitutions did not quite have the same effect, despite the home side dominating for much of the remaining 25 minutes.

The Hammers came closest to an equaliser through Senegal international Ba, who lashed a bouncing ball against the angle of post and crossbar with 13 minutes to go.

Grant sent Manuel da Costa - returning for the first time since suffering an achilles injury in the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on 30 October - forward late on in a bid to boost his attack, and the Portuguese centre-back responded by testing Foster with a rasping shot before heading narrowly wide of the target.

Afterwards, defender Winston Reid admitted West Ham had missed a great opportunity to boost their Barclays Premier League survival chances, while also allowing Birmingham to gain ground on them.

"They didn't have too many chances in the game, so it was disappointing to lose, obviously," said the New Zealand defender. "Birmingham took their opportunity and won the game.

"It was an important game down at the bottom that we wanted to win. We'll re-group as a team and get a win next time."

"We need to aim to win every game from now on and try to get some more points. It's football so strange stuff happens, but as a team we want to win games and keep progressing forward. Sunday wasn't so good, but hopefully we can win the next game."