GRAY ON HIS WAY AS BLUES SHADE IT
GARY Rowett believes his Birmingham side showed there is life after Demarai Gray by beating Brentford.
With the winger in talks with Leicester City due to his release clause being met, Maikel Kieftenbeld scored a late winner for Blues, after Phillip Hofmann’s tap-in following a Tomasz Kuszczak error looked to have cancelled out Jacques Maghoma’s opener.
Rowett declared himself delighted with his squad’s contribution after a second home win in five days.
“A club has met that amount and Demarai’s asked to speak to them,” Rowett confirmed after the game.
“Under those circumstances I don’t think it’s right to keep a player, but it’s out of our hands and, should it go through, I wish him all the best.
“I think we’ve showed without him in the last two games we’ve got players who can fill in.
“We’ve talked about desire and effort but our first goal was good football, a lovely pass and a great finish, and it shows how much Jacques’ standing in our team has increased.
“We died a little bit but we showed a lot of resolve to get the winner.”
The news about Gray – which emerged an hour before kick-off – seemed to affect the mood around the ground during a soporific first half.
The home side should have created the first opportunity of the match on eight minutes, when Jon Toral latched onto a loose ball from Jake Bidwell, but the former Bees man failed to find a team-mate in the box.
Kieftenbeld was booked early on after taking down John Swift from behind on the edge of the area, but the subsequent bizarre free-kick routine – featuring two attacking walls in front of a defensive wall – sailed wide.
The only real chance of the first half came on 40 minutes, with Toral’s backpost header going narrowly wide, before his late tackle on Bidwell caused a flurry of controversy, receiving a yellow when many thought it should have been red.
The home side went ahead ten minutes after half-time when Maghoma followed up his winner against MK Dons by firing low past David Button from close range after a lovely through ball from the influential Toral.
That did at least spark the Bees into action, and they had a golden opportunity to equalise when a through ball from Toumani Diagouraga caught Paul Robinson square, only for Alan Judge to fire the chance over.
The Bees were level 13 minutes from time when Kuszczak spilled a longrange shot from Judge straight into the path of substitute Hofmann.
The striker could have grabbed his second minutes later, but volleyed a tricky right-wing cross over the bar.
And Kieftenbeld won it in the 89th minute after James Vaughan latched onto a through ball and fired low across goal for the midfielder to record his first Birmingham goal.
Brentford manager Dean Smith felt his side were bitterly unlucky to concede late on, having spurned a few chances before Kieftenbeld’s winner.
“It’s disappointing because I felt we were the better team and it’s a compliment to us how deep Birmingham played.
“I think they felt if it was an open game we’d have opened them up and scored a few goals.
“The counter-attack is always a danger, but then we got back into it and regrouped, and we were the only team trying to win it from there and we got done at the end.
“I thought when we equalised Birmingham wanted to settle for a point but that’s not our way, we wanted to win the game.”
ON THE TURN: Jacques Maghoma leads an attack for Birmingham. Inset, Blues midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld celebrates scoring the winner