Victory in defeat: Birmingham City showed promotion credentials despite 4-1 loss

Fulham inflicted a heavy defeat on Lee Bowyer’s men but it was a result that far from told the story of the night

Birmingham City fell to their second league defeat of the season as they lost 4-1 to Fulham on Wednesday evening.

The result moved the Whites up to top of the Championship table whilst Bowyer’s side dropped to tenth.

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But it was a scoreline that far from reflected the overall tale of the night. Had Blues not got their late goal - which they thoroughly deserved, the result would have looked even more perplexing than it already does now.

There were a number of factors that contributed to the loss but without dwelling on them, here’s to the positives.

It’s not often you find many on the back of such a heavy defeat but the standing ovation around St Andrew’s stadium on the back of the full-time whistle tells you that there were plenty.

Fight until the end

The attitude that I saw on display from the Blues players last night was outstanding to see.

A never give up attitude that has been instilled from Lee Bowyer and one that you can now see resonates throughout everyone at the club.

I’ve seen much stronger sides wilt under pressing circumstances. In fact, there aren’t many teams you could list now in football that you’d be confident in performing when 3/4-0 down.

It’s not always the fault of the players and management. Being on the wrong end of these scorelines can be demoralising for the best of the best but Blues kept pushing and they got their reward, albeit a consolation through Troy Deeney’s penalty.

They should have added a second with the last kick of the game but the crossbar thwarted them. It was one of many moments that didn’t quite go their way on the night but the belief never died.

There are bound to be purple patches and rough spells as the season progresses, for all 24 teams in the league. If Blues are able to keep the mindset and attitude they showed tonight, it will steer them on the right path whilst many fall down the wrong one.

Learning curve

Nobody wants to be on the end of a 4-1 defeat but after conceding just three goals in six games before the Fulham match-up, it may have just served as a bit of a reality check as to what it’s going to take to get past the best in the division.

Tiny mistakes will be capitalised on and it’s now up to Blues to cut them back out and solidify the unit which has been so strong up until now.

The biggest positive in this, I feel, is that the hardest task is now out of the way. At times this season, Fulham have been able to field a squad worth £148million. Not many are going to be able to compete with that.

But Birmingham did for the majority and the scoreline flattered the visitors. When watching the tape back, I think both Bowyer and the defence will learn a lot and I expect it to stand them in good stead as we move forward.

Stats

When it comes to the statistical side of the game, you probably love it or hate it. At the end of the day, the only real stat that matters is the result. And whilst that is correct, the statistics from this game in particular show that Birmingham more than matched a side that are fully expected to win the league this season.

Blues had more shots, won more duels and created more chances overall on the night. But it was Fulham that boasted more shots on target, backing up their clinical nature in front of goal.

Bowyer said in his post-match interview “whoever finishes above Fulham will get promoted” and I’m inclined to agree with him. The strength in depth they have among their ranks and ready-made Premier League quality players is unmatched by anyone else in the division.

To match them in all areas of the pitch and better them in many, too, bodes well for the future of this side.

Troy Deeney

Introduced just after half-time, Deeney showed his quality for the time he was on the pitch and was rewarded by netting his first goal for his hometown club in the dying minutes.

As good as Scott Hogan and Lukas Jutkiewicz have been this season, the self-confessed bluenose seemed to take it up another level and could have had a hattrick had it not been for some superb goalkeeping from Pablo Gazzaniga who put in an inspired performance on the night.

Bowyer admitted in his pre-match press conference that he was unsure whether Deeney could hack 90 minutes or not yet, but if this is the forward not at full fitness, the Championship needs to brace itself for when he is. I firmly believe the 33-year-old could be the difference in a play-off spot or not for this Birmingham City side.