Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish was relieved to see his side escape with a draw against Swansea City yesterday after admitting that the point gained was ‘a bonus’.
Playing their second match in three days, Birmingham were stretched by the pacey Welsh visitors throughout the goal-less draw at St Andrew’s and David Murphy’s sending off in the 68th minute, for a second bookable offence, didn’t help matters.
Swansea’s second-half substitute, Jason Scotland, had several late chances to steal all three points for Roberto Martinez’s side as did fellow replacement Fabian Brandy against a tiring Birmingham, who had Maik Taylor to thank.
So McLeish, who became the latest manager to lavish praise on aesthetically-pleasing Swansea, breathed a sigh of relief to see his promotion-chasing team emerge with a clean sheet and ultimately an important Championship point.
“That was a point gained for us so I’m grateful for small mercies, said McLeish. “It was a poor performance but I’ve got to give Swansea credit, they were excellent.
“I said last week that they were the best footballing team we’ve played against this season and I don’t change my mind on that after today.
“I don’t know if there is a particular reason I can give for the below-par performance. There’s a few things you can think about, they outmanoeuvred us in the midfield with an extra man in the first half.
“In the second half, we tried to match them up but we never really got into our way of playing but I think it’s a credit to Swansea that in the way they played, they made us look ineffective.
“We had a flurry of decent corners from James McFadden and Cameron Jerome had the best chance for us in the game when we were down to ten men so the irony is that we could have nicked it, despite not playing well but we nicked a point and for me that was a bonus.”
Birmingham remain level on points with Reading in the promotion places following the Royals’ 1-1 draw at Southampton, while both sides will be waiting to see the outcome of league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers’ match-up at Blackpool this evening (7.45pm).
“Again there’s a lot of spirit shown with the players,” added McLeish. “We were a wee bit naive with the defending when playing against quick players up front and there were one or two good interceptions at the back so there was definitely a commitment there from the players.”