Brum are now in drop zone

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dan Machin To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­

TUR­BU­LENCE on and off the pitch has landed Birm­ing­ham in the thick of a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle but man­ager Lee Clark has no in­ter­est in mak­ing ex­cuses.

De­feat to Leeds on Satur­day was the Blues’ fourth in as many Cham­pi­onship games, as sec­ond-half strikes from Matt Smith and Danny Pugh did the dam­age.

A Paul Cad­dis own goal piled on the mis­ery for Clark be­fore Fed­erico Macheda pulled one back in the fi­nal ten min­utes.

Now in the bot­tom three and with a host of suit­ors in talks to take fi­nan­cial con­trol at St An­drews, vic­tory over Wi­gan on Tues­day is para­mount – and the man­ager in­sists that is the least Birm­ing­ham sup­port­ers de­serve.

“We need to fight for the fu­ture of this foot­ball club.The fans don’t de­serve to be in this sit­u­a­tion,” said Clark.

“The off-the-field is­sues are not an ex­cuse. All I can say is that we knew it was go­ing to be tough but we didn’t ex­pect to be where we are at this mo­ment in time.

“The sup­port­ers are do­ing their bit by back­ing the team in num­bers and vo­cally, so me, my staff and the play­ers have got to do some­thing about it on the field.

“The play­ers have got to give me ev­ery­thing over the next two games to make sure we stay in this di­vi­sion. I be­lieve they can do it.

“We need two big per­for­mances in our last two games.

“We were very good, en­er­getic and pow­er­ful in the first half. But if you give goals away like we have then you get pun­ished.

“I’d like to think the play­ers are dis­ap­pointed, frus­trated, fed up and con­cerned. If ev­ery­one feels that way then we’ll have a chance.”

Blues striker Lee Novak sliced wide when well placed early on, be­fore Tom Adeyemi ran through on goal min­utes later only to fire harm­lessly over the bar.

Cal­lum Reilly and Novak each tested Jack But­land in quick suc­ces­sion as the half wore on, while at the other end Dar­ren Ran­dolph got down well to keep out an ef­fort from Michael Tonge, af­ter the for­mer Sh­effield United mid- fielder ghosted into the box past two de­fend­ers.

Two goals in three min­utes af­ter the restart turned the game on its head how­ever.

First Smith con­verted Tonge’s teas­ing cross from the left flank and then Pugh pounced when in­side the box to dou­ble the ad­van­tage.

Cad­dis turned Ross McCormack’s cross into this own net as the clock ticked down to pile on the mis­ery be­fore Macheda pulled one back with a bul­let fin­ish – but it was too lit­tle, too late.

Leeds them­selves are no strangers to off-the-field un­cer­tainty, but boss Brian McDer­mott be­lieves they are start­ing to find a rhythm since the con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure of Mas­simo Cellino com­pleted his re­cent takeover at El­land Road.

“We’ve had a tough time of it over the last three months, but we’ve won three out of four since the own­er­ship was sorted out,” in­sisted the for­mer Read­ing man­ager.

“The play­ers haven’t got a lot of credit re­cently but I hope they do af­ter that vic­tory.

“It’s about find­ing a way to win foot­ball matches. This league is unique. It is a very, very tough league.

“The only agenda I have is to win the next game. A wave of neg­a­tiv­ity seems to go around our club, for what­ever rea­son, and that’s got to go for us to be suc­cess­ful.

“We have to be pos­i­tive as a group go­ing for­ward.

“There was noth­ing be­tween the teams in the first half out there. They’ve had a cou­ple of chances but we’ve stayed in the game.

“We got a good goal, then we got an­other good goal, and then we started to pass the ball and earned the right to play from there.”


JUMP FOR JOY: Matt Smith cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the first goal for Leeds

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages



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