Leicester 3-1 Birmingham: Beckford bags brace
Published 21:52 13/03/12 By James Nursey
Nigel Pearson acclaimed match-winner Jermaine Beckford - after hauling him off at half-time in the Foxes' previous game.
Beckford warmed up for Chelsea with a brace to keep alive the Foxes' faint play-off hopes and dent Birmingham's.
Beckford's five FA Cup goals this term have helped set-up Sunday's quarter-final at Premier League Chelsea.
And the striker, signed from Everton last summer, underlined his importance to Leicester here.
He notched from close-range in the first half to cancel out Wade Elliott's disputed penalty for Birmingham. Then he scored in stoppage time, after teenage sub Jeffrey Schlupp netted in the 80th minute from Tom Kennedy's pass.
Kennedy's passing also led to the hosts' opener after he and Beckford were subbed at the break in last weekend's 3-1 loss at Reading.
"Those two players started and contributed very well," said Pearson, whose side climb to 11th. "If players get criticised then it is only right to give them praise when they do well.
"It's very pleasing to get the type of response from the players after what has been a difficult week.
"We have still got a real fighting chance of the play-offs. We dominated the play. I think we were the more potent force throughout."
Pearson's side now visit Stamford Bridge in the last eight of the Cup, after winning at Premier League Norwich previously.
He added: "It is an opportunity for the players to go and enjoy the challenge of playing against one of the top sides in the country."
Birmingham won a harsh penalty when Nikola Zigic was fouled in the box by Kennedy, following Andros Townsend's cross.
Elliott converted the spot-kick low past Kasper Schmeichel for his fifth goal of the season in the 20th minute.
Birmingham might have gone further in front when Zigic also headed against the bar from Elliott's corner, and the Foxes made the most of the let-off to equalise before the break.
The lively Kennedy crossed, David Nugent volleyed against the post and Beckford tapped in the rebound in the 34th minute.
Birmingham tried to hold out for a point but sub Schlupp struck 10 minutes from time from Kennedy's cross.
Beckford rounded off an emphatic win with a low finish in stoppage time from a long ball by Ben Marshall.
Chris Hughton's marathon men were playing their 49th game of the season after Europa League and FA Cup runs.
Hughton, without a win in four League games, said: "We didn't do enough with the ball and conceded poor goals at bad moments."