Match ends, Birmingham City 2, Nottingham Forest 1.
Birmingham City maintained their revival under new manager Gary Rowett as Paul Caddis's late penalty proved enough to beat Nottingham Forest.
David Cotterill's stunning 20-yard strike gave Blues an interval lead.
Britt Assombalonga then headed Forest level six minutes from time.
But the Forest striker was sent off for handball on the line - a decision given by fourth official Nigel Smith from the touchline - and Caddis slotted in the winning 89th-minute spot-kick.
Under the gaze of former Blues and Forest favourite Trevor Francis, who had been invited along to receive an honour as one of the Midlands' all-time top celebrities, the biggest crowd of the season at St Andrew's were treated to a classic contest.
|The Blues-Forest game was marked by a half-time presentation to legend Trevor Francis, who became the latest local Midlands celebrity to be welcomed into the Birmingham Walk of Stars.|
|The 52-times capped former England international made his name with Blues before moving in 1979 to Forest, for whom he netted the European Cup winning goal in 1979.Although he originally he hails from Plymouth, he became an adopted Midlander, and a Blues idol, from the moment that he burst into the scene at the age of 16 at St Andrew's as a teenage scoring sensation.|
|He netted 133 goals in 329 appearances in a decade at Blues before becoming this country's first million-pound footballer when he moved to Forest.|
|He returned to Blues as manager almost two decades later to lead the club to the League Cup final and so nearly to the Premier League, only to repeatedly miss out in the play-offs.|
A fifth successive game without defeat under Rowett moves Blues up two places in the Championship table to 17th - just six points behind Stuart Pearce's promotion-chasing Forest, who had won their previous two matches.
An already competitive encounter truly erupted into life on 10 minutes when Cotterill cut in from the right to curl home an exquisitely-struck left-foot shot off the underside of the bar - by far from being the recently-recalled Wales international's first spectacular long-range strike.
Blues then went close to a second on 31 minutes when right-back Caddis's attempted cross took a big, looping, deflection off Danny Fox before bouncing off the top of the bar.
But, in the end, they had to be indebted to a fine save by home keeper Darren Randolph to stay a goal clear at the break.
Blues old boy Chris Burke's chargedown sent him clear on goal, but his right-foot shot from the edge of the box was parried by Randolph, who got down well to save low to his right.
It needed an even better save from Forest keeper Karl Darlow, however, to keep out Clayton Donaldson's powerful right-foot shot as the home side dominated after the break.
That came either side of two dangerous headers at successive corners from on-loan home defender Michael Morrison. And Cotterill was only just too high with an outrageously cheeky 60-yard chip from just inside the Forest half.
Forest then sneaked a late equaliser when Michail Antonio's deflected cross was headed home at the far post by Assombalonga - followed by protests led by Blues skipper Paul Robinson.
But, just when it seemed as if Darlow's brilliant one-hand save had denied sub Lee Novak's volley to wreck hopes of claiming all three points, Blues had one last shout.
Morrison's goalbound header was kept out on the line by Assombalonga. And, after mass protests from the Blues players, following a touchline consultation with Mr Smith, and now sparking great anger in the Forest dug-out, referee Geoff Eltringham gave the penalty - and Caddis sent Darlow the wrong way from the spot.
Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett told BBC WM:
"It was controversial the way it happened. The referee gave a corner, the linesman gave a corner and it was the fourth official who said it was handball.
"The referee took his time and conferred with him. And, as galling as it must have been for the Forest bench, it was the right decision.
"You can argue whether he should make the decision from that far away, but you can't argue with the fact that it was the right decision in the end.
"I wasn't 100% clear until I'd seen it again but, having seen the replay, it was without a shadow of the doubt, the right decision."
Nottingham Forest manager Stuart Pearce told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"It took a while for the decision to be made but eventually the right one was and we accept that. We'll never be a football club that bemoans the match officials.
"I saw Britt handball it and so did the fourth official behind me. I'm not quite sure how the referee and his linesman, who were closer, could not see that but fair play to the referee. He has admitted he couldn't see the incident.
"We've got a lot of hard work to do before the Charlton game next week. The players need to show me they're up for the fight.
"We're not going to use the penalty as a smokescreen or an excuse for why we haven't taken something from this game. We didn't play well enough. That is the bottom line."
- 22ShinnieSubstituted forReillyat 70'minutes
- 33GrayBooked at 45minsSubstituted forNovakat 70'minutes
- 16LascellesBooked at 90mins
- 13FoxSubstituted forInceat 71'minutesBooked at 61mins
- 27BurkeSubstituted forPatersonat 63'minutes
- 10LansburyBooked at 90mins
- 18AntonioBooked at 80mins
- 7FryattSubstituted forBlackstockat 80'minutes
- 9AssombalongaBooked at 88mins
- 29de Vries
- Geoff Eltringham
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Birmingham City 2, Nottingham Forest 1.
Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest).
Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ben Osborn.
Offside, Birmingham City. David Cotterill tries a through ball, but Clayton Donaldson is caught offside.
Foul by Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest).
Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt blocked. Tom Ince (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card.
Goal! Birmingham City 2, Nottingham Forest 1. Paul Caddis (Birmingham City) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Britt Assombalonga (Nottingham Forest) is shown the red card.
Penalty conceded by Britt Assombalonga (Nottingham Forest) with a hand ball in the penalty area.
Attempt blocked. Michael Morrison (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by David Cotterill with a cross.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Karl Darlow.
Attempt saved. Lee Novak (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Stephen Gleeson with a headed pass.
Goal! Birmingham City 1, Nottingham Forest 1. Britt Assombalonga (Nottingham Forest) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Jamie Paterson with a headed pass.
Attempt saved. Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jamie Paterson.
Attempt missed. Dexter Blackstock (Nottingham Forest) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Ben Osborn with a cross.