WOOD’S DOUBLE DENIES THE BLUES
form but striker is red-hot Hosts on
BIRMINGHAM City put in their best performance of the season to date, according to manager Gianfranco Zola, but it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat at the hands of Leeds.
The Blues had 61 per cent possession and 27 shots, of which only six were on target, in the game but two Chris Wood goals saw Leeds steal the three points.
Wood lobbed Tomasz Kuszczak to put play-off chasing Leeds ahead after just 14 minutes before Craig Gardner levelled with a 20-yard left foot strike just after the hour.
It was Gardner’s first goal since returning to the Blues but his side weren’t level for long as Wood tapped home Kalvin Phillips’ cut back.
Alfonso Pedraza wrapped up the points with an 81st-minute strike but Zola was pleased to see his side match Leeds for much of the game.
“I think the fans seemed as though they enjoyed it, they appreciated the fight the players put on the pitch,” he said.
“They appreciate, I believe, the football the players did. Obviously I understand that nobody appreciated the result.
“But we were playing against a team that is third in the league and that difference didn’t show.
“But on the other hand I am going to be telling them ‘well done’ because I think we put on the pitch the best performance of the season.
“That is a fact – as is a fact obviously we made mistakes. But when you play a high intensity game as we did it can happen that you make some mistakes.
“If the mistake happens and the ball goes to somebody like Wood – especially when he is like he is – then you are punished very heavily.
“If we keep playing like this we are going to be telling another story.”
Wood, a former Blues loanee, has now scored 25 goals for Garry Monk’s men as they cemented their place inside the play-off places despite not earning a single corner in the game.
The visitors scored with three of their six shots on target and Monk was delighted to see his side cope under the pressure of an impressive Birmingham performance.
“I know Birmingham are where they are in the league and they’ve had a difficult run but I thought they were excellent in the first 60 minutes,” Monk said.
“But our mentality is so strong, to fight and defend in that pressure.
“We suffered too much pressure which is disappointing but in the last half-hour we were excellent.
“That was the real us and that’s what we’ve been doing and how we try to play.
“We looked dangerous and in the end we won the game comfortably but it wasn’t down to a lack of performance from Birmingham. They’ll feel a bit aggrieved.
“Because of the standards we set we feel a bit disappointed but we’re so strong mentally. When we have set-backs we come back strong.
“They equalised and we came straight back at them. That’s the sign of a good team.
“I’m very pleased with the points and the substitutes had a good impact.
“The spirit is clearly there. We’ve got a very strong winning mentality.
“It was only three points and no one has achieved anything. No one is guaranteed anything at the present time.”
BACK IN FRONT: Chris Wood celebrates scoring his second goal