Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish hailed his natural-born finisher Garry O’Connor at the final whistle after his two goals helped sink visitors Sheffield Wednesday 3-1. He said he hoped at last people would now recognise what a decent player O’Connor is.
The striker’s brace inside four minutes – split by a goal from Wednesday’s Etienne Esajas – was bolstered by a 38th- minute strike from the ever-reliable Kevin Phillips. That not only gave Blues their second successive win at home in five days but ensured their position at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship table.
A delighted McLeish said: “It was a very good performance following on from a very good performance in that 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
“I think we took it a step further forward. You could see the spring in the players’ steps and a new found confidence. Apart from the equalising goal I thought we were pretty much in charrge.”
McLeish was full of praise for O’Connor who hit his third goal in a week to give his boss food for thought with so many talented strikers at his disposal.
The Scotman said of his fellow countryman: “I don’t think people have realised that he is a decent player and he is now beginning to show that.
“He is one of the best natural finishers on the training ground and we have emphasied to him that he has got to take that now into the bigger picture.”
McLeish continued: “He has done it with Hibernian up in Scotland and in Moscow with Dynamo Moscow. So I have got no doubt about it. If he gets opportunities in front of goal he will finish.”
McLeish’s only disappointment from the game – watched by just 17,000 fans – was that Birmingham had not capitalised further when the Owls were reduced to ten men in the second half after Jimmy Smith was shown a straight red card for elbowing Blues’ defender Stuart Parnaby.
He said: “I would have liked us to get in behind Sheffield Wednesday a bit more in the second half. But it was as good as I have seen from us.