Owls fail to make it count

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Miller

GARY Monk saluted his Birm­ing­ham City play­ers af­ter they chalked up their fourth suc­ces­sive win af­ter rid­ing out a de­ter­mined chal­lenge from Sh­effield Wed­nes­day at St An­drews.

It was a vic­tory Monk ad­mit­ted the Blues were lucky to achieve af­ter be­ing sub­jected to a great deal of at­tack­ing pres­sure in a hec­tic open­ing 30 min­utes.

But af­ter Steven Fletcher fired the Owls in front, the home side fin­ished strongly, with goals from Con­nor Ma­honey, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Che Adams.

Monk said: “We got lucky in the first half-hour. They could have been two or three up and we could not have had any com­plaints as they would have thor­oughly de­served that lead.

“We man­aged to get our first goal against the run of play and we were lucky to be in that po­si­tion at half-time.

“It was our third game in a week and it took its toll but the over­all pic­ture is very sat­is­fy­ing. To keep ex­tend­ing our present run is mas­sive credit to the play­ers who got us through the game in the sec­ond pe­riod.”

In­jury-hit Wed­nes­day made a pos­i­tive at­tack­ing start when Fletcher col­lected a long pass from Barry Ban­nan down the right, cut in, checked and the un­leashed a long-range, left­footed shot which can­noned against the far post and back into play. In the 18th minute they were again in­volved when when Wed­nes­day stormed into the lead. Ban­nan took an in­swing­ing cor­ner which went past the far post be­fore the ball was knocked back into the mid­dle for Fletcher to lash home his shot from 12 yards.

Birm­ing­ham could count them­selves for­tu­nate not to have con­ceded a sec­ond goal in the 25th minute when the longserv­ing Liam Palmer, show­ing a good turn of speed and no small mea­sure of skill, raced into the penalty area only to fire just wide of the post.

Palmer, again in a for­ward role, in­ex­pli­ca­bly blasted an­other ef­fort over the bar from the six-yard line, while Gary Gard­ner might eas­ily have equalised with a header from a Ma­honey cor­ner.

Two min­utes be­fore half­time Birm­ing­ham raised their hopes when Ma­honey cut in un­chal­lenged from the left to fire in a scream­ing right­footed shot past Cameron Daw­son into the far top cor­ner of the net.

Wed­nes­day ap­peared to be the more dan­ger­ous side as em­pha­sised when Joey Pelu­pessy pro­duced a pow­er­ful rocket of shot which only went just wide, but Birm­ing­ham could not be un­der­es­ti­mated as they demon­strated with Jutkiewicz’s 80th-minute clincher, when the striker was on hand to head home a right-wing cross from Jota. Adams scored the third fol­low­ing a Kris­tian Ped­er­sen pass.

Jos Luhukay, Wed­nes­day’s man­ager, had mixed feel­ings fol­low­ing the de­feat.

He said: “At the end we must learn from our poor de­fen­sive work and in our of­fen­sive mo­ments when we were not ef­fec­tive. It was a very dis­ap­point­ing re­sult for us but at the end Birm­ing­ham de­served to win.”

PIC­TURE: PA Im­ages

ROAR DE­LIGHT: Con­nor Ma­honey cel­e­brates scor­ing the Blues’ first goal

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