Dean Whitehead struck late on as Stoke survived a Birmingham fightback to win 3-2 at the Britannia Stadium.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, with Blues goalkeeper Ben Forster tipping over a Kenwyne Jones header before the hosts went ahead on the stroke of half-time.
Whitehead created an opening for Jones and the striker’s shot was deflected into the path of Robert Huth, and the defender made no mistake by rifling the ball home.
Danny Higginbotham turned a Cameron Jerome effort against his own post as Birmingham sought an equaliser, but Stoke broke forward and Ricardo Fuller beat two men before curling a delightful effort past Foster to double the home side’s lead.
Blues looked dead and buried, but on 74 minutes Higginbotham failed to clear and Keith Fahey fired home for the visitors and two minutes later they were level through a Jerome glancing header.
Asmir Begovic then made two smart stops to deny Craig Gardner as it looked like Birmingham could actually go on and win the game.
But the sucker punch came with five minutes to go when Matthew Etherington’s cross fell to Whitehead and the Stoke midfielder prodded home the winner.