WILL POWER

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

BIRM­ING­HAM boss Gary Rowett waxed lyri­cal about his side’s re­cent run of form as they de­feated Ip­swich to go above the Trac­tor Boys in the push for a play-off spot

Only Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence is keep­ing Blues out of the top six, af­ter their se­cond 3-0 win in a row, thanks to Will Buck­ley’s first-half fin­ish, and won­der strikes from Jon To­ral and Maikel Kieften­beld af­ter the break.

“It’s an­other re­ally, re­ally en­cour­ag­ing per­for­mance,” Rowett en­thused.

“You’ve got to en­joy it when you’re in a good run of form. I said it four or five weeks ago that we don’t seem to score many goals out of noth­ing, and then in the last two games, we’ve scored an aw­ful lot of goals out of noth­ing!”

Buck­ley was mak­ing his full de­but af­ter join­ing on an ini­tial month’s loan from Sun­der­land, and be­gan like a man with a point to prove, shift­ing su­perbly in­side onto his left foot be­fore fir­ing just wide af­ter four min­utes.

Daryl Mur­phy then went close at the other end, send­ing a closerange header loop­ing over the bar af­ter Kevin Bru crossed from the left.

But Buck­ley was in the right place at the right time mid-way through the half, giv­ing Blues the lead with a sim­ple fin­ish af­ter Dean Gerken could only parry Clay­ton Don­ald­son’s close-range strike back into dan­ger.

Ip­swich con­tin­ued to hold their own, mainly thanks to the pace and en­ergy of the ex­cel­lent Ryan Fraser, who drew a fine save from To­masz Kuszczak in the lat­ter stages of the half.

But the vis­i­tors’ task was made a good deal harder when Jonathan Dou­glas saw an im­me­di­ate red card af­ter scyth­ing in on Buck­ley in firsthalf stop­page time.

If Birm­ing­ham’s first goal had been a scrappy af­fair, their se­cond, cour­tesy of To­ral, was noth­ing short of sen­sa­tional.

A clear­ance by Kuszczak was met by Don­ald­son, who flicked on for To­ral to launch an un­stop­pable vol­ley be­yond Gerken.

Fraser con­tin­ued to im­press in ad­ver­sity, and came close to pulling Ip­swich back into the game three min­utes af­ter the hour when he fired just wide af­ter driv­ing into the box

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