Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish shook off the disappointment of his side’s last-gasp defeat and said his players should be pleased with their first half of the season.

Despite Jon Parkin’s late winner, which brought to an end Blues’ seven-game unbeaten run, McLeish’s men are still in the top two at the halfway stage of the campaign and the Blues boss believes it is a case of ‘so far, so good’.

Blues may have lost ground on leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers and allowed third-placed Reading, who come to St Andrew’s this Saturday, to close the gap on them but in terms of the main aim of securing an instant return back to the Premier League, McLeish said Blues were still on track.

“I told the lads at full-time that they can be very proud of what they’ve achieved in the first half of the season,” McLeish said.

“We would have liked to have got to 50 points, but 47 is a good return and we aim to kick on from here now.

“The game against Reading promises to be extremely exciting and it’s one we’re looking forward to.

“Yes, they’ve closed the gap on us but we have got more points than them and that means we’ve had a better first half of the season. We have to draw a lot of confidence from that.

“But we know they are a very good side and we have to work hard on the training ground this week to be fully prepared for the challenge.

“I’ll be a bear with a sore head for a day or so following this defeat but then I, and all of the lads, will pick ourselves up and be ready to take on Reading next Saturday.”

Substitute Parkin’s late winner was a bitter blow for Blues who had looked the more likely to claim all three points.

However, McLeish said his side must perform better in future.

“It was a cruel blow but we have done it to other teams this season and I now know how it feels,” he said.

“We looked as if we had a slice of the cake but a late mistake, a lack of that professionalism that we required, gave them the opening.

“Liam Ridgewell has mistimed the one-on-one in the box and the big fellow has an easy tap-in. That was disappointing. I think we can do better than that – we must do better than that.

“That is half the season gone now and it would have been nice to reach the 50-point mark but we knew it was going to be tough here.

“The disappointing thing was not to get at least a point. We can do better, we have to do better in the second half of the season but the first half of the campaign, I don’t think we should be ashamed of at all.”