BLUES NEW BOYS IMPRESS CLARK
LEE Clark’s team of strangers staged a late fightback to earn a point against Derby with Federico Macheda netting the equaliser despite meeting his teammates only two-and-a-half hours before kick-off.
The Manchester United loanee climbed off the bench to give Birmingham a barely deserved point after they had been outplayed by the visitors.
Macheda opted against a move to Serie A as he wanted to stay in England and he showed what a valuable asset he can be for Clark by scrambling home as Derby threw away a 3-1 lead.
Fellow United teammates Tom Thorpe and Tyler Blackett started along with Manchester City midfielder Emyr Huws while Aaron Martin came on as an early sub for Thorpe who injured his ankle.
“It was a very young side with people just getting to know each other over the last couple of days,” said Clark.
“Federico did not meet his teammates until 12.30pm, that’s why he started on the bench. He made a huge contribution.
“Macheda’s a goal scorer, I got him in a stab in the dark as I was getting bounced all over.
“I got him right at the last minute, he had a huge club back in Italy to go to but wanted to stay in the UK.
“I talk about building relationships and I try to do that with the big clubs around the country.
“That’s the market we’re in. That’s the case with both Manchester United and Manchester City.
“We tried to work on a bit of shape but I basically just said ‘you’re good players, play together’. I asked them to use the spirit they have got.
“My lads just said ‘let’s keep fighting’. They had a right good go and that was fantastic.”
Spirited though Birmingham were, they should never have got anything out of this game.
Derby dominated from the start and missed their third straight penalty on 36 minutes with Darren Randolph easily keeping out Craig Bryson’s effort after Will Hughes had been fouled by a poor challenge from Blackett.
Birmingham though stunned Derby moments into the second half as Brian Howard’s tame header beat Lee Grant from Paul Caddis’ cross.
But Steve McClaren’s side turned on the style after that with Patrick Bamford equalising a minute later, firing home at the second attempt from the impressive Jamie Ward’s cross.
There was some good fortune about Derby’s second as Chris Martin’s shot hit the back of Bryson’s head and beat a caughtout Randolph. It now looked a question of how many McClaren’s men would score. A third arrived on 73 minutes as Craig Forsyth buried his first goal for the club after more good work by Ward.
But Chris Burke pulled one back on 78 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area before Macheda bundled in after Huws’ effort from Albert Rusnak’s corner came back off the post.
“We should have won and won easily and we’ve ended up drawing,” said an angry McClaren.
“It’s a harsh lesson for our team. At 3-1 we lost discipline and we didn’t control the game and just went for it. We could have won it four, five or six or 3-3 and it was the second one we got.
“We were vulnerable ourselves, their second was an absolute disgrace.
“It’s about being streetwise, knowing how to win. You don’t have to win it five or six, just defend well.
“You’re never safe and our team has to learn.
“We should have won this very easily. If you don’t do things right you occasionally get bitten.We’ve been bitten good and proper.”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Federico Macheda scores the late leveller for Birmingham
EQUALISER: Macheda celebrates with teammates