Birmingham City are now just one victory away from achieving automatic promotion back to the Premier League.
It is not often that Birmingham supporters find themselves cheering on a team clad in claret and blue but that was the case last night.
However it was the colours of Burnley, and not local rivals Aston Villa, that ensured that Alex McLeish’s men can now wrap up an immediate return to the Premier League on home soil this Saturday.
An exquisitively-finished header from Burnley striker Martin Paterson sent Sheffield United, Birmingham’s rivals for a top-two finish, crashing to a 1-0 defeat during a full-blooded battle at Turf Moor. It is a result that would have brought cheers from the royal blue half of the Second City.
That is because it means that if Birminghan beat play-off hopefuls Preston North End at St Andrew’s on Saturday then they will secure their path into the top flight behind Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With both sides having played 44 games, the Blades trail the Blues by four points with just two Championship fixtures remaining.
Birmingham are now tantalisingly close to achieving their single aim from a journey that began against Sheffield United last August.
The jubilant scenes at Molineux last Saturday would have only whetted the appetite of Birmingham supporters who will be hoping to repeat those celebrations at St Andrew’s in four days’ time.
Now is the time for McLeish’s side to display the mental toughness that their manager has spoken of throughout a campaign that now looks destined to end successfully.
“Of course we would have taken this situation at the start of the season. If that is what has been handed to you and that’s in the crystal ball then we will take that,” said McLeish.
“We’d love to be done and dusted like Wolves but everybody knows that sometimes results haven’t gone our way. Sometimes we’ve have a bit of luck go against us certainly in recent games.
“But one thing about my squad is the resilience they’ve shown in abundance.”
A nervy finale at Reading, a side who have capitulated in a remarkable fashion, was on the horizon but Birmingham could now travel to the Madejski Stadium knowing that their mission is complete.
Anything other than a full house at St Andrew’s come 5.20pm on Saturday, despite the fact that the Preston clash will be televised, would be a disappointment.
McLeish has expressed his desire to see a bumper crowd replicate the electric atmosphere that carried his team to victory over Wolves just over a fortnight ago.
“We will try and win our last two fixtures but we will see what happens with the topsy-turvy nature of this division results-wise.
“One thing for sure is that we’re at home on Saturday and I’d like to think that there will be a full St Andrew’s crowd. They were brilliant against Wolves, if we could get that kind of support it will undoubtedly give the players extra energy.”
McLeish, who had already admitted that he wasn’t planning on watching last night’s fixture, would have had his joy slightly overshadowed by the news that left-back David Murphy will miss the rest of the season after suffering a meniscus injury at Watford on Saturday.