BIRMINGHAM striker Peter Lovenkrands was coolness personified as he struck the two late goals that salvaged a 3-3 draw with Stoke on Tuesday night.
The Dane was introduced as an 80th minute sub and scored twice in ten minutes to take the Capital One Cup tie to extra time, although Brum eventually lost on penalties after a 4-4 draw.
So what was behind Lovenkrands’s show of nerve? Perhaps it was his Premier League experience with Newcastle, or his days winning trophies galore with at Ibrox.
Maybe it’s the result of a decade with the Danish team or Champions League nights with Rangers and Schalke.
Or maybe it’s just the fact that the 33-year-old lost track of time and thought he had half an hour to get Brum back in the game!
“It was a really weird one,” laughs Lovenkrands, who also scored in the shootout. “We normally have our big screen at the side of the pitch, which tells you the score, how long is left, all that stuff.
“But it wasn’t working so when the manager sent me on, I didn’t have a clue what the time was. I thought it was like the 65th minute or something.
“It wasn’t until the final whistle went that I realised I’d come on for the last ten minutes and scored two goals. Even then, I felt like I’d been on forever, but I was obviously pretty pleased.
“What made it even better was that my Danish colleaguee, Thomas Sor- ensen, was in goal for Stoke.
“We’re good friends, me and Thomas. We play together for the national team and we live quite close to each other here in Birmingham.
“I told him before the match that if I got on I’d get a goal against him and as it happened I got three! There’s nothing better than getting one over your mate.”
Birmingham’s resilience – they also equalised in the 118th minute – was all the more impressive given that Wade Elliott was sent off for a raised arm just before half-time.
“It was a great performance from the boys,” said Lovenkrands. “To have played with ten men for pretty much all of the game and come back from a goal down three times in 120 minutes – against a Premier League team – shows great spirit and character.
“Stoke are an established Premier League team who had some big stars on the pitch.
“Our lads should be really proud of how they performed – it’s just a shame we couldn’t pull the win off on penalties.”
Lovenkrands joined Birmingham from Newcastle last summer, and scored five goals in 25 games during aninconsistent first season. However, with Birmingham short of funds and owner Carson Yeung under house arrest on money-laundering charges in his native Hong Kong, the forward was one of four high-earners told they could leave the club to free up cash for new signings.
With no offers forthcoming Lovenkrands stayed on, but has since struggled to force his way into manager Lee Clark’s plans with Tuesday’s cameo only his fourth appearance of the season. Now he is hoping his heroics will lead to more chances.
“It’s been a frustrating time,” he says. “I’m not the type who knocks on the door and says: ‘I should be playing’. I’ve never done that. I try to let my training do the talking.
“But I was desperate to play. I just wanted a chance. Now I’ve had that and taken it, hopefully it will give me a wee bit of a kick-start here at Birmingham. I hope I’ve proved I’ve still got it.
“I’ve always said I wouldn’t stop playing unless I couldn’t keep up with the younger boys. But I’m still quicker than most of them, still fitter as well. I can still finish a game without feeling any tiredness.
“Retirement is nowhere near my plans yet. And anyway, I may be 33, but I’m still late 20s on looks!”