Jermaine Pennant celebrated his first Premiership goal for Birmingham City and cited the draw against Manchester United as the turning point in Blues' season.

The winger turned in his best performance of the campaign yesterday after a stunning first-half header settled both his and the team's nerves as they strolled to a 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic.

Mario Melchiot also scored his first goal of the season, as Birmingham moved to within three points of West Bromwich Albion.

It maintained their recent improvement at St Andrew's and ensured they have garnered seven points from their last three home fixtures.

And Pennant is convinced that last week's 2-2 draw with Manchester United, despite trailing twice, has injected a large dose of self-belief into Birmingham's players.

"The goal was a boost for me. As I played well against Chelsea, my confidence was high and the team is really buzzing," he said.

"The performance against Manchester United kick-started our season and we are now looking like the Birmingham team that has stayed in the Premiership for three years.

"It has been difficult recently as results haven't been going our way and confidence has been low, including mine.

"It is hard to play well when your confidence is low.

"We were playing badly and we didn't really have a game plan. The formation was changing every week and there was a bit of confusion there.

"But we have got a gameplan now, we know how the gaffer wants us to play, and we are sticking to it.

"We are showing how good we can be and are starting to pass the ball better, as well as take our chances," he added with a grin, referring to his far-post header.

"There was only one place I could put it, which was back across the keeper, and when I saw the net ruffle it was a lovely feeling.

"I can't remember scoring with my head so it must have been a long time. I will take any goal I can."

With home fixtures on the horizon against Portsmouth, Sunderland and Albion, the upsurge in home form has been a timely fillip for Steve Bruce.

However, Pennant insist it is no more than the manager deserves and is optimistic better times are ahead for Birmingham in 2006.

"We owe the manager for the poor performances we have put in during the early part of the season," said Pennant.

"Over the last four or five games we have played better and he has been pleased. He just told us to go out and give it our best and we showed how much we wanted it.

"The board have got a lot of faith in the the manager and he has done a lot for Birmingham, so it is understandable that they have stuck by him.

"The players have got a lot of faith in him as well but the results haven't been going our way.

"Hopefully, things are starting to slip into place now and the results will follow.

"Since the Manchester United game we know we can give a good account of ourselves against any team. We are looking to beat teams like Wigan.

"It will be nice to get some new faces in during the transfer window but it is all about the team that is here now.

"It is all about the team performance and that showed in the result today."