Gavin Beech is tipping Stoke to overcome Roy Hodgson’s West Brom at the Britannia Stadium tonight…

Alex McLeish paid tribute to his Birmingham side for defying the odds and securing a ‘deserved’ victory over Arsenal following their Carling Cup triumph at Wembley.

The final had looked set to enter extra time after Robin van Persie cancelled out Nikola Zigic’s opener.

Ben Foster kept Blues level with a series of splendid saves before substitute Obafemi Martins scored in the 89th minute to secure a 2-1 win.

McLeish felt his team had been written off in many quarters prior to kick-off and was delighted with the shock result.

“Relatively speaking, it is my greatest achievement,” he said. “At Glasgow Rangers I was expected to win trophies, even though it was still very difficult with Celtic so strong.

“But to come to England and on my first trophy attempt … for a small club like Birmingham to beat the might of Arsenal, it’s a dream come true.

“It is all the sweeter because nobody gave us a prayer. We were massive underdogs with the bookies but the bookies don’t get it right all the time. I am so delighted for everyone, especially the long-suffering Blues fans. It was a Titanic performance.

“We had a game-plan and managed to get our noses in front, that gives you a great chance.

“We thought if we could keep in it for as long as we could we’d get the quick guys on who can win it for us (Martins and Cameron Jerome).”

A disappointed Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, acknowledged that defeat hurt, but said he hoped the loss would galvanise his players for the challenges that lay ahead.

“It is a massive disappointment for the team, but we have massive challenges in front of us,” he said.

“The Carling Cup is four or five games, but a championship season is 38. We will not throw 38 games away because of one game.

“I am confident we have the character and this is a good opportunity to show it.

“We have to be proud of our attitude, continue with our belief, pick ourselves up and face the other challenges we have.

“We will face a lot of questions after that mistake, but we have to be strong enough to stand up.

“It is a good opportunity to show that we have the mental strength to respond to the situation.”

Gavin Beech is tipping Stoke to overcome Roy Hodgson’s West Brom at the Britannia Stadium tonight…