Coventry City 0 Birmingham City 1
There was nothing scary about Halloween for Birmingham City as Steve Bruce's battlers pulled off their second local derby win in four days to rocket back into the Championship's top four.
In a competitive, but generally unexciting, game that was more 'trick' than 'treat', Nicklas Bendtner headed the only goal of the contest midway through the first half — one that Coventry City goalkeeper Andy Marshall will not want to remember in a hurry. But that applied to this game as a whole.
With the smell of sulphur hanging in the Halloween night air as premature fireworks went off all around Coventry, and a record league crowd at the Ricoh, thanks to the presence of more than 5,000 travelling Blues fans, an explosive evening was on the cards.
But, other than Mat Sadler's fair but crunching challenge on home right-back Richard Duffy, the game never carried quite the same dramatic impact as Blues' previous Midlands derby victory over Albion just three days earlier.
It was Sadler's storming run down the left and pinpoint cross which Bendtner met with a powerful header that was parried by Marshall, spun behind the Coventry keeper and squirmed over the line despite his desperate, but clumsy, attempt to save.
Bruce had just one change to make to the team who won Saturday's lunchtime battle with the Baggies at St Andrew's.
Neil Danns came in wide on the right as the replacement for injured skipper Damien Johnson, whose fractured jaw was operated on yesterday following his collision with Paul Robinson's elbow.
That meant a first return to Coventry for Gary McSheffrey since his switch to Birmingham just over two months ago — one that was to prove a disappointment for the returning old boy, who ended up with only a booking.
As for the two Sky Blues strikers in with a chance of playing against their former club, Coventry manager Micky Adams opted to start with just one of them, Dele Adebola dropping back to the subs' bench to make way for Stern John, who had missed Saturday's 1-0 win at Barnsley.
But, while Adebola did make a late appearance, it was right in the dying seconds, when John fluffed his side's best chance, before either threatened.
Also back in the Coventry team was Marcus Hall, fit again after the knee ligament injury that has kept him out for three games and forced Adams into the loan transfer market. But it was to be down Coventry's right flank where this game was won.
After Sadler's stunning run to set up the goal, neither side were exactly raining in worthwhile efforts for the rest of the first half, John going closest when he slid one wide just before the break.
But, for all the home side's commendable efforts, it was only ever Blues who looked like adding to the score.
Bendtner twice had the presence of mind to pick out Cameron Jerome, but Blues' summer signing is simply not in the same class, never mind on the same wavelength, as the on-loan Arsenal man and, although Marshall produced a great fingertip save to keep out his first effort, he could have done a lot better than fire wide with his second.
McSheffrey, straight after a frustration-filled booking, then fired straight at Marshall, before Bendtner twice wasted chances to play in the local boy for the goal he craved on his return.
But, having been the two-goal hero against Albion on Saturday, this time McSheffrey had to play second fiddle.
First, Bendtner opted to hold on and shoot himself, then when he broke free down the right, he opted not to use the unmarked McSheffrey, instead picking out the excellent Stephen Clemence, who sadly screwed a shot wide.
It was not until injury time that the Sky Blues carved out their best chance and, when it fell to John, after all the late goals he plundered in the royal blue of Birmingham, the visiting fans understandably held their breath. But, arriving at the far post, he struck this one wide — and Blues' latest step on the road to recovery was complete.
A lot of Blues fans may not actually have seen it, due to the road accident that left the M6 in chaos and many Blues fans not taking their seats until close to half time. But the end result was all that mattered. Scorer: Bendtner (26)
COVENTRY CITY (4-3-3): Marshall; Duffy, Page, Ward, Hall; Cameron (Andrews 76), Hughes (Hutchison ht), Doyle; McKenzie, Kyle (Adebola 67), John. Subs: Tabb, Clarke
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Taylor; Kelly, Jaidi, Taylor, Sadler; Danns, Muamba, Clemence, McSheffrey (Campbell 90); Jerome (Larsson 87), Bendtner. Subs: Doyle (gk), Gray, Nafti
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex)
Bookings: Coventry — Page, Duffy (fouls); Blues — Kelly (unsporting behaviour), Clemence (foul), McSheffrey (foul)