BLUES LOOKING OVER SHOULDER
Clark on half-time warpath
BIRMINGHAM boss Lee Clark has called on his senior players to take responsibility for keeping the Blues up after they slipped to within a point of the drop zone.
Matt Derbyshire’s secondminute goal proved the difference, with the visitors fortunate not to go further behind before launching a second-half comeback.
Clark will be without suspended captain Paul Robinson for the next three matches after a late booking and admitted he had to spell out the severity of his side’s performance at half-time against Forest.
“First-half we gave a really poor goal away and didn’t seem to recover from it. We were really flat, only four or five of my players performing at their max,” he said.
“The second-half was much improved from everybody and we should have got something from the game, as simple as that.
“The difference between the halves was every single player being right at it, playing with the right application, on the front foot, not waiting for their team-mate to try and make something happen but doing it themselves.
“I sat everyone down at the break, including the subs, to explain the severity of what was going on. We had to quickly realise what was happening.
“We have to change the mentality of some. We’ve got some young players who think it’s just enough to go out on the pitch.
“They don’t understand that first-team level is about one thing only: results.
“The senior players have to start taking that responsibility. I’ve got lots of youngsters and lots of players who have never played at this level before.”
The game’s only goal came in the second minute. Jonathan Spector gifted possession to Jamie Paterson whose through ball was slid in at the near post by Derbyshire.
A dominant Forest should have gone further clear just after the break when Paterson went clean through on goal but Darren Randolph saved his shot. Clark threw on the attacking trio of Jordan Ibe, Federico Macheda and Peter Lovenkrands and, with less than 15 minutes remaining, Chris Burke’s cross-shot narrowly missed the goal and Macheda at the back post.
Moments later, Forest keeper Karl Darlow made a terrific near post save from Robinson’s header as a nervy home defence held on to move just three points off a play-off place.
Caretaker manager Gary Brazil was relieved that Forest ended their 13-match winless run and while a play-off place remains unlikely he is not giving up hope.
Forest sit ninth in the division, three points off the play-offs but with Reading and Ipswich between them and Brighton in sixth.
However, Brazil believes Forest may not need a great deal more points to extend their season.
“I said weeks ago that it might not take a massive number of points to get you into sixth place and it is proving to be the case,” he said.
“If we can get a win at Elland Road, the last two games are going to be very interesting.
“I am really pleased for everyone at the club because this has been a tough period. To get ourselves a win now gives us some momentum, but we have to carry that on now, on Monday afternoon.
“It feels better in the changing room for the players - but this was one for the fans.
“I have been frustrated with the home performances since I took over, but our intensity was good.
“We played some good football and should have been more than a goal up by half-time.
“The frustration was that we did not make enough of the chances. We will go up to Elland Road and try to reproduce that.”
WHAT A START: Nottingham Forest's Matt Derbyshire celebrates his early winner
BATTLE: Birmingham’s Paul Robinson, left, and Shane Ferguson with Forest’s Jamie Paterson