GAZ: ‘KEEP RIGHT ON THIS ROAD!’

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sean Kearns

GARY Rowett be­lieves his side’s first half dis­play at Craven Cottage was as good as he’s seen his team play dur­ing his time as Blues boss.

The Birm­ing­ham City manager saw his team ex­tend their un­beaten league run to six matches de­spite fall­ing be­hind to a well­taken early goal from Hugo Ro­dal­lega.

The goal ap­peared to have awo­ken the vis­i­tors and they were level within min­utes when David Cot­ter­ill curled in a de­light­ful free-kick from the cor­ner of the area.

The Blues should have taken the lead on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions in the first half but Rowett was keen to fo­cus on the pos­i­tives of the per­for­mance and re­vealed he asked for more qual­ity from his play­ers be­fore the match.

“As an at­tack­ing force that is as well as we’ve played,” ad­mit­ted Rowett.

“We counter-at­tacked with real pur­pose, pace and qual­ity and we’ve cre­ated five or six re­ally good chances in the first half and should have been ahead go­ing into half-time.

“We’re pleased to get the point but over­all on the bal­ance of play we should be com­ing away with all three to­day.

“I asked for more qual­ity to­day be­cause it’s been lack­ing in re­cent weeks and we did it to­day.

“We started slowly by con­ced­ing the first goal but we showed bril­liant char­ac­ter and once Cot­ter­rill got the equaliser we were the bet­ter side.

“Our aim now is just to keep on per­form­ing, keep on per­form­ing and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Rowett’s side had started slowly and were be­hind af­ter four min­utes when Hugo Ro­dal­lega latched onto Lasse Vi­gen Chris­tensen’s threaded through ball to slot home his 11th goal of the sea­son.

Hav­ing taken an early lead, Ful­ham were guilty of sit­ting off Rowett’s men and the vis­i­tors were soon level when David Cot­ter­ill curled a glo­ri­ous free-kick past Mar­cus Bet­tinelli from the cor­ner of the box af­ter 14 min­utes played.

The vis­i­tors were on top and should have been ahead be­fore the break when Clay­ton Don­ald- son col­lected Stephen Glee­son’s ex­quis­ite ball over the top on his chest, only to scuff his ef­fort wide.

Kit Sy­mons’ men had lost their early vigour and should have been be­hind in the 40th minute when Cot­ter­ill’s low ef­fort was saved by Bet­tinelli af­ter Llyod Dyer’s cross from the left.

The Whites were far bet­ter af­ter the restart and went close through Alexander Ka­caniklic and Seko Fafana but couldn’t find the break­through.

With the match en­ter­ing its fi­nal stages, Hugo Ro­dal­lega surely thought he had won it for the home side but saw his close- range ef­fort blocked by a determined Ran­dolph to en­sure the match fin­ished level.

The re­sult leaves Ful­ham in 16th place and 15 points shy off the play-offs but manager Kit Sy­mons is not giv­ing up hope of a late push but ad­mits they must cut out the mis­takes in or­der to im­prove.

“With ev­ery dropped point it gets a bit fur­ther away from you but we can only aim to do as well as we can and keep on pro­gress­ing,” said the frus­trated Ful­ham boss.

“We are ca­pa­ble of go­ing on a run but what we need to do is stamp out the silly mis­takes and cheap giveaways to en­sure we stay in games.

“That would al­low us to nick the odd game 1-0 be­cause it’s those sort of re­sults that re­ally can take you to the next level.

“Most of the chances for Birm­ing­ham to­day were due to our bad choices and bad de­ci­sion mak­ing.

“Of course I want us to play well ev­ery week but that’s not al­ways pos­si­ble.

“So I need us to be able to grind out the sort of re­sults when per­haps you haven’t en­tirely de­served it.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

HAM­MER: Paul Robin­son at­tempts a shot past Shaun Hutchinson, Niko­lay Bo­durov and Car­los Bet­tinelli

PRE­CI­SION: David Cot­ter­ill (right) cel­e­brates

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