ROWETT RAVES OVER VITAL WIN
Blues end drought with an own goal
BIRMINGHAM ended an eight-game winless run with a deserved victory over play-off hopefuls Brentford, with manager Gary Rowett hailing it as their most important result of the season.
The hosts should have won by more but passed up chance after chance to make the game safe, and the hosts’ nerves were hardly helped by a stupid late sendingoff for Stephen Gleeson.
But to their relief they claimed a much-needed three points, although their winner came from an opposing player with James Tarkowski putting into his own net.
Brentford remain just outside the play-off places and had they nicked an equaliser late on, it would have covered up a disappointing performance by them.
Rowett said: “That was the biggest win of our season – it was absolutely crucial for us to get something from these next two games.
“And to get it against a very good side in Brentford who as we know have done really well under Mark Warburton and it looks like they’re playing for him.
“They had 42 shots which was well documented against Blackpool but we needed to get back to basics, I’ve said that a couple of times after defeats.
“You analyse things and maybe we’ve been a bit too open in games and too attacking in order to please people in that sense.
“We are what we are at the moment and until we have time to change that and be a little more flexible in our approach, we’ve got to continue to do it.”
Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph missed Jota’s corner 16 minutes in, but his blushes were spared by Tarkowski heading wide.
The Blues then went straight up the other end and came very close when David Button clawed away a Clayton Donaldson header that was destined for the bottom corner.
But the hosts took the lead five minutes before half-time when Paul Caddis’ cross was turned into his own net by Tarkowski, who was under pressure from Donaldson, at the near post.
But Brentford missed a good chance to draw level just before the break when the unmarked Jonathan Douglas nodded Alex Pritchard’s cross over.
Birmingham pressed for a second after restart with Caddis bending a shot wide from the edge of the area after cutting inside from the right.
It really should have arrived after 64 minutes when Donaldson nodded down Gleeson’s hanging cross with Demarai Gray somehow blazing over from close range.
The Blues continued to create all the chances with David Cotterill forcing Button into a flying save with a wonderful strike before Gray whipped a shot a whisker over the bar from the resulting corner.
Gleeson’s red card with three minutes left for stamping on Pritchard made for a nervous finish, which made the final whistle all the more satisfying for the home fans.
Brentford boss Warburton said: “I thought we lacked a bit of quality, we weren’t quite at our best.
“We had a lot of possession and a lot of entries into the final third but we lacked a bit of care in our final ball and in truth never really tested the ‘keeper more than two or three times. For all the possession you have to get the end product but it’s a tough, tough league.
“The pitch was difficult – the wind was blowing across the top and drying it out and it was challenging but it was the same for both teams.
“There are a lot of points still to be played for and there’s a chance on Tuesday to hopefully correct this.”
TRUE BLUES: Birmingham’s Clayton Donaldson celebrates with David Cotterill after James Tarkowski’s own goal
GET RID: Birmingham’s Paul Caddis clears from Brentford’s James Tarkowski