The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

GARY Rowett hailed Birm­ing­ham’s de­ter­mi­na­tion and dis­ci­pline as they ended a gru­elling run of seven games in 21 days with a text­book away win at Leeds.

De­marai Gray, with his first goal of the sea­son, sent Rowett’s men in ahead at half-time, and they put in an ac­com­plished dis­play af­ter the break to de­fend their ad­van­tage.

And to make it a per­fect day for Rowett, Jac­ques Maghoma came off the bench to seal the vic­tory in stop­page time.

“I thought it was a text­book away per­for­mance,” Rowett re­flected as the Blues made it two away wins on the bounce fol­low­ing their mid­week vic­tory at Brent­ford.

“I think the odds were stacked against us some­what.

“But once again, for the play­ers to show so much re­solve, de­ter­mi­na­tion, and fan­tas­tic con­trol in the way that they kept their shape was bril­liant.”

Nei­ther side cre­ated any clear open­ings in the first half hour, but the Blues had shown a will­ing­ness to take a di­rect ap­proach by look­ing to re­lease Clay­ton Don­ald­son with balls over the top of the Leeds de­fence.

Don­ald­son looked the favourite to reach one such ball from Stephen Glee­son un­til Liam Cooper ap­peared on the cover.

But the cen­tre-back’s clear­ance only made it as far as Gray, who turned to­wards goal to fire the ball high into the net.

“I said to De­marai, ‘If you get an op­por­tu­nity, just go for power on tar­get. Make the keeper save it’,” Rowett said. “But he’s been bril­liant.

“He was re­ally, re­ally tired to­wards the end with the fact that he’s played so many games for a young player in such a short space of time, and worked so hard for the team.

“But I thought he was ex­cel­lent again.”

Gray went close to dou­bling his tally three min­utes be­fore the break, get­ting the bet­ter of Sol Bamba to draw a low stop from Marco Sil­vestri who just about man­aged to turn the ball away.

But Sil­vestri’s save was bet­tered at the other end by To­masz Kuszczak in the dy­ing em­bers of the half, the for­mer Manch­ester United keeper pro­duc­ing a su­perb save to keep a bending ef­fort from Stu­art Dal­las out of the top cor­ner when it looked to all in­tents and pur­poses a fan­tas­tic fin­ish.

The hosts be­gan to pile on the pres­sure as the sec­ond half wore on, win­ning a suc­ces­sion of corners as Uwe Rosler sent on Jor­dan Bo­taka and Mirco An­tenucci in pur­suit of an equaliser.

But in all truth the visi­tors rarely looked in dan­ger of los­ing their ad­van­tage and had their own op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­tend their lead.

An­tenucci briefly threat­ened to cap­i­talise on an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal- ly slick Leeds build-up in the 90th minute un­til Glee­son ap­peared to take the ball off his toes.

And mo­ments later Maghoma put the ic­ing on the cake for the trav­el­ling sup­port, who are yet to see their side lose on the road this sea­son, driv­ing the ball past Sil­vestri from in­side the box on the counter.

Leeds boss Rosler in­sisted he does not feel un­der pres­sure de­spite his on­go­ing search for a first home win since tak­ing charge.

But he hinted that changes may be made to the match day squad af­ter yet another laboured dis­play at El­land Road.

“The only pres­sure I feel is my own pres­sure to win games of football,” Rosler said af­ter the game, with Leeds hav­ing picked up only three points from their open­ing five games at home in the Cham­pi­onship so far this sea­son.

“At the mo­ment we can’t break teams down when they sit very deep.

“We want to play a pass­ing game with the ball on the ground, but in the fu­ture maybe we need to sim­plify, and sac­ri­fice those ideas to get some points on the ta­ble.

“We have to show qual­i­ties on the pitch at El­land Road which are not only about play­ing nice football.

“We need to be ruth­less, to show a nasty streak at times, and we all have to re­alise that.

“It looks like the shirt is heavy for some play­ers.

“Our job is to help them through that, but also to make the nec­es­sary changes.”

PIC­TURE: Media Im­age

PIN­POINT: Birm­ing­ham’s Jac­ques Maghoma scores in added time

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