How Birmingham City must wish they could play Aston Villa every week - especially when there's a Scandinavian goalkeeper guarding the opposition net.
In six Second City Premiership derbies, Blues now boast four wins and two draws, the sort of form that would win them the title if they could keep it up outside Birmingham. And they owe it almost all to Villa?s curse of the keepers.
Just like Peter Enckelman two seasons ago, Thomas Sorensen went into yesterday?s second derby of the season hoping he could atone for a dropped clanger in the first. But, just like Enckelman, Sorsensen did not reckon on there being another goalkeeping howler to come.
Sorensen?s near-post fumble to allow Emile Heskey?s angled shot to squirm home early in the second half was the game?s defining moment. Nothing will ever displace Enckelman?s famous St Andrew?s air shot of September 2002 as the worst individual derby disaster, but Sorensen?s latest gaff matched the moment he allowed Clinton Morrison to score at Villa Park.
The same cruel wags among the Blues fans who voted Enckelman third in their Player of the Season competition two years ago, were not slow to rub Sorensen?s nose in it. They taunted him with a stream of songs throughout the second half ? until another defensive error allowed Julian Gray in for a late clinching second goal .
?Enckelman is better than you,? went their serenade, followed by ?Nice one Tommy, nice one son, nice one Tommy, let?s have another one.?
Whether that will happen ? and whether Sorensen remains Villa?s first choice keeper next season ? now depends on David O?Leary being more forgiving of the Dane than Villa?s fans were of Enckelman two years ago. There can be no worse a stage upon which to drop a clanger. Twice.
What must have been so galling to the Villa fans was that Sorensen?s latest nightmare came in direct contrast to the performance of Blues goalkeeper Maik Taylor.
Only called on twice in the 90 minutes, Taylor produced the goods each time, turning Nobby Solano?s first-half free-kick onto the post, as well as bravely denying Villa substitute Carlton Cole at close quarters late on.
Key incidents at either end that effectively told the story of a derby in which Villa once again played poorly, yet could so easily have beaten a Blues side still a long way short of their best. For all that, though, the most passion shown by any visiting player all afternoon was Lee Hendrie?s on-field fracas at the final whistle with Mario Melchiot ? a set-to sparked by the Dutchman?s unnecessary showboating in the final seconds and which is believed to have continued in the tunnel afterwards.
Villa are well used to not getting the warmest of welcomes at St Andrew?s. But, after two days of sunshine, the weather that greeted them across the city on the first day of Spring was decidedly frosty too. This was derby day, though. And, unlike the strangely subdued bore draw here last season, it was not long before the heat was turned up.
Steve Bruce?s Blues had suffered the pain of seeing their unbeaten Premiership derby record wiped out by West Bromwich Albion a fortnight before. And, judging by their manager?s demeanour since that painful experience at The Hawthorns, it?s hard to imagine that Bruce hadn?t enjoyed a frank exchange of views or two about it with his players.
The need to put things right following two successive defeats was apparent in Blues? energetic early start.
Walter Pandiani volleyed just wide, Darren Carter thundered a 25-yard left-foot shot just past the same right post and, released by Melchiot, Heskey struck a hard, low cross which flew along the six-yard box without anyone getting a touch.
It was 19 minutes before anyone managed a shot on target when Sorensen comfortably dealt with Pandiani?s low drive. And the game was beginning to peter out into the expected midfield slog when it livened up just before the break.
Melchiot?s foul on Hendrie, for which he was booked, initially raised the temperature, sowing the first seeds of their later spat. But that was followed by Matthew Upson?s challenge from behind on Luke Moore to spark an eventful few minutes.
Ironically, the only thing Mr Riley got wrong appeared to be the original incident, TV replays showing that Upson?s challenge had been perfectly fair.
In an uncharacteristic moment, Upson protested to the linesman before being cautioned.
Damien Johnson then joined him in the book after twice ignoring warnings not to charge down Solano?s free kick. And Blues? indiscipline was not finished there.
Their continued protests led to Mr Riley taking the free kick ten yards further forward ? and a very generous ten yards at that ? right into the Peruvian?s range.
Sure enough, Solano curled a beauty over the wall. But Taylor was good enough, turning it onto his right-hand post with the faintest touch of his fingertips.
Even then, the ball could have fallen anywhere. But, instead of dropping to the waiting Martin Laursen, it fell to Melchiot and he scrambled it away.
Having survived a moment that could so easily have put them one down, Blues then emerged after the break to immediately go one up.
For once, Heskey wriggled free of Laursen and Olof Mellberg but his 20-yard shot should not have troubled any keeper at his near post.
But Sorensen, still clearly haunted by that December nightmare, was to suffer another chronic case of ? careless hands?.
It could be argued that Heskey?s shot was more powerful than one Morrison had embarrassed him with at Villa Park. But it was still one that should have been easily saved.
There was one more low blow for Villa to come when Mellberg?s attempted clearance hit Laursen, ran into Gray?s path and he ran on to fire the killer second.
Although substitute Darius Vassell set up Cole, Taylor somehow saved from close range to cap another miserable Villa derby day.
Scorers: Heskey (52); Gray (85).
BLUES (4-4-2): Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Clapham; Johnson, Clemence (Nafti, 76), Carter, Lazaridis (Gray, 80); Heskey, Pandiani (Morrison, 84). Subs: Vaesen (gk), Blake.
VILLA (4-1-4-1): Sorensen; De La Cruz, Laursen, Mellberg, Samuel (Hitzlsperger, 72); Berson (Vassell 60); Solano, Davis, Hendrie, Barry; L Moore (Cole, 60). Subs: Postma (gk), Ridgewell.
Referee: Mike Riley (Leeds). Bookings: Blues ? Melchiot, Upson (both fouls), Johnson (encroachment); Villa ? Berson, Laursen (both fouls), Hendrie (dissent).
Blues man of the match: Maik Taylor ? two stunning saves, the first of them a real match-turning moment.
Villa man of the match: Nobby Solano ? so unlucky not to score with that free-kick and always the visitors? best hope of inspiration.