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Nervous Birmingham still in danger of relegation from Championship

Victory against Ipswich helps Garry Monk's men

Birmingham celebrate their 1-0 win over Ipswich
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship

Birmingham 1 Ipswich 0
Jota (pen) 21

There will be plenty of "must-win" games between now and the end of the season so it's just as well that Birmingham won one of their must-win games against Ipswich at St Andrew's.

Jota's first-half penalty helped to push Blues out of the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone, and led bookmakers to offer
6-5 that City would drop out of the division having previously posted odds-on quotes.

It was a massive three-point haul and just about deserved after Blues were the more positive team in the opening 45 minutes. The best player in that half, Jacques Maghoma, was fouled by Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota made no mistake from the spot.

A miraculous Bartosz Bialkowski save with his foot from a Che Adams deflected shot kept Birmingham at bay as City looked comfortable.

Strikers Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz showed moments of promise in the 4-4-2 formation, Maghoma caused plenty of problems and they were strong enough at the back to suggest it would be comfortable.

However, with must-win games comes pressure and Birmingham did not deal with that side of the game particularly well in the second period as they were pushed back.

A top stop from David Stockdale kept out Martyn Waghorn's effort and there was only the odd counter-attacking threat. 

Jutkiewicz's long-range effort curled just wide but there was a nervousness around St Andrew's which suggests Garry Monk's men could be left praying for help in a difficult run-in.


Recent Teams In Focus

Rotherham

Wycombe Wanderers

Sunderland

Peterborough

Fulham


The next two matches - Bolton away and Burton at home - are key before things get tricky. Bristol City away, Wolves away, Sheffield United at home, QPR away and Fulham at home suggests Blues may yet be sucked back into serious trouble.

Birmingham's relegation rivals Sunderland showed fight at Derby and Barnsley are playing much better than results suggest so there should be more twists to come. Certainly Birmingham will have tougher tests than Ipswich before the end of the season.

The opposition

Ipswich's defeat came in the week when it was announced Mick McCarthy will leave at the end of the season and, like most of his tenure, there was plenty of effort but not enough quality.

The Tractor Boys offered no threat in the first half but their wing-backs Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen pushed higher after the break to make the formation 3-4-3 rather than the 5-4-1 it had often looked like in the first period.

There were crosses into the box and scrambles that maybe could have dropped differently for a side who kept trying until the end, but they had only one shot on target against a team who started the day in the bottom three.

It's now four games without a goal for mid-table Town, who according to McCarthy are in "a bit of a dip" but according to expected goal ratings they should be in relegation trouble and are probably perfect opponents in their final seven fixtures.

Birmingham 4-4-2: Stockdale; Harding, Morrison, Dean, Colin; Jota, Davis, Kieftenbeld (Ndoye 80), Maghoma (Lowe 90); Adams, Jutkiewicz (Dacres-Cogley 86).

Ipswich 5-4-1: Bialkowski; Spence, Carter-Vickers, Chambers, Webster, Knudsen; Ward (Celina), Skuse, Connolly (Hyam 71), Sears (Carayol 76); Waghorn. 


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