BLUES LUCKY TO SURVIVE – MONK
Owls fail to make it count
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.”
ROAR DELIGHT: Connor Mahoney celebrates scoring the Blues’ first goal