Birmingham City 1 Shrewsbury Town 0
The Arsenal creche came to Birmingham City's rescue once more last night as, with just eight minutes remaining and extra-time looming in a dire Carling Cup first round match, Nicklas Bendtner released Sebastian Larsson for the Swede to claim his second winning goals in four days.
Following on from last Saturday's injury time strike against Crystal Palace the young midfielder, who played right back in what was very much a second-string Birmingham team, overlapped into the Shrewsbury penalty area and was picked out by a deliciously weighted pass from Bendtner.
His finish with the out-side of his right foot was a blessed mercy for the 12,000 who bothered to turn up to an occasion that had a feel of pre-season knockabout about it.
It was also a fitting reward for the loyal few whose devotion would have been tested at times during an encounter in which Steve Bruce's Championship leaders struggled to quell a side two divisions lower.
Between them Larsson and Bendtner have now scored four of Birmingham's six goals this season and if the campaign for their regular and permanent inclusion in Bruce's line-up was not yet a clamour, it won't be far off if they both don't start against Cardiff City this weekend.
They might only be on loan from the Emirates Stadium but their value to this St Andrew's vintage cannot be overstated and Bruce knows it.
"There were only 12,000 here to see him but he is a talent," the manager said of the Dane. "I am absolutely delighted with Larsson as well because he can play anywhere, left or right.
"We knew that by watching him at Arsenal last season he was always capable of getting a goal."
On reflection Bruce might wish he'd started with both and given himself a less stressful evening. Instead he kept just one of the side from Saturday, though it was unclear whether Radhi Jaidi's inclusion was a punishment or a doffed cap to selectoral consistency.
Presumably the former given the turgid fare his team put on in the first 45 minutes. That is not to say there weren't chances in the first half - there were and a decent number too.
When Birmingham managed to stir themselves from their torpor and ran off the ball instead of just moving it sideways, they were well capable of opening up their guests.
But too often their attacking waves lapped up against the defensive rocks and dissipated into nothing. What the period needed was an early goal. It would have both coaxed Gary Peters' men forward and imbued City with the belief to commit more players to the offensive.
It nearly came too. Larsson and Neil Kilkenny combined neatly through the inside right channel in the second minute and the Swede found himself afforded the freedom of the penalty area.
His squared ball into the feet of Mikael Forssell was a good one but when he should have shot from 15 yards first time the striker took a touch which gave Ben Davies time to deflect the shot for a corner.
Another Larsson centre reached Neil Danns on the quarter hour but the former Colchester man had his effort beaten out at the near post by Chris Mackenzie.
Shrewsbury only ventured forward for a five minute spell either side of half time but they created the best opportunity as Danny Hall slid the inventive Davies behind Lars-son. One-on-one with Colin Doyle, who after five years at St Andrew's was making his debut, he waited for the Irishman to go to ground only to hit his trailing leg instead of the net.
The home team had three more promising situations in the opening stanza and squandered all of them.
To be fair to Cameron Jerome at least he created the one he wasted having cut in from the right touchline and jinked his way free before dragging wide.
Forssell hit the side netting five minutes before the break but Fabrice Muamba must consider himself the most negligent after bulldozing his way into the box only to smash over from 12 yards.
It was a similar tale after the restart as Jerome and Forssell rarely got out of second gear and although Blues continued to create openings the forwards rarely looked like taking them.
The Finn tricked his way into a good position three minutes after the interval but had his attempt smothered by a covering tackle from Richard Hope and ten minutes later Kilkenny saw his long-range curler fizz past the post.
It was only when - in the 66th minute - Bruce hauled off £6 million worth of strikers and replaced them with something borrowed and something not quite so new, Bendtner and DJ Campbell, that the hosts showed any urgency up front.
When that urgency combined with a little Scandinavian precision Birmingham had the win they probably deserved.