MULLINS TIMES IT JUST RIGHT
BIRMINGHAM..1 LEEDS UNITED 0
BIRMINGHAM manager Lee Clark believes his side can push on next season after their victory over Leeds secured their Championship status.
Hayden Mullins’ close range second-half finish settled a tight encounter at St Andrews as the Blues clinched back-to-back league wins.
Despite admitting frustration at the early stages of their campaign, Clark was delighted with both the win and performance that lifts his side to tenth in the table.
“It gives me a lot of promise going into next season,” he said.“The young players have given me a huge boost.
“The frustrating thing for me is if we hadn’t messed about in the early part of the season, it might have taken us into the play-off positions.
“It is a terrific win as it was a very tough game. Brian [McDermott] has come in and done a brilliant job – the only job I expect of him as he’s a top manager.
“I said to my players if we give ourselves a good position and standpoint in the game, if it’s still 0-0 after an hour, we’ve got lots of match-winners both on the field and on the bench.
“We’ve got good fitness levels so it gives us an opportunity to go and win.
“We played really well in the first-half. We passed the ball around and passed it with a purpose, we created opportunities and I was really pleased.
“Ravel Morrison and Nathan Redmond were threatening all afternoon and have been like that for weeks.
“Just after half-time, Leeds started dominating the possession a little bit and we got a bit sloppy, but we got the goal and kicked on from there.”
Ex-Manchester United trainee Morrison nearly opened the scoring with a 12th minute shot that Paddy Kenny tipped onto his cross- bar. Shane Ferguson could have given the Blues a 16thminute lead but fired a 30-yard shot just wide of goal.
Jack Butland denied Michael Tonge after getting his fingertips to a minute curling effort from the edge of the box shortly afterwards as they side’s went into the break goalless.
Ross McCormack went close on 54 minutes when he poked a shot from inside the area just wide.
But Mullins broke the deadlock on 71 minutes after he poked home Kenny’s parry from Redmond’s powerful shot on his 550th career league appearance.
Leeds nearly struck back through Rodolph Austin’s 75th-minute curling shot but Butland’s stretching save kept the Yorkshire side at bay and secured the three points for the hosts.
Despite the loss, Leeds manager Brian McDermott was relieved the Whites’ Championship status is also secure and challenged the club to build next season.
“I have no disappointments whatsoever, we are in this league and have done what we had to do,” he said.“We should have got something out of the game. I felt when it was 0-0, we were on top and they scored the goal from nothing.
“The players have given me everything. You’re not happy when you don’t win a game but when you look at where we could have been, it gives us that opportunity to build. I’ve got massive optimism for next season. There has to be no gossiping or moaning, we all have to be pulling in the same direction.
“The most important thing for me was to make sure Leeds stay in this division and put my reputation on the line.”
MILESTONE: Hayden Mullins celebrates his strike with teammates
DECIDER: Birmingham's Hayden Mullins scores to make it 1-0