Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Jordon Mutch Builds Birmingham a Play-off Buffer

Jordon Mutch
Jordon Mutch ensured Birmingham grabbed their chance to build up a play-off buffer by beating Burnley 3-1.

The midfielder netted just as the Blues feared they had let the points go up in smoke after Marlon King's lucky strike had edged them in front.

Danny Ings finally converted one of the Clarets many opportunities to draw his side level in the 74th minute.

Within 60 seconds Mutch popped up in the home box and side-footed home King's cut back to restore the lead before David Murphy scored to move the Blues up to fourth, three points clear of seventh-placed Middlesbrough.

But their third win in five games was a laboured affair and without Curtis Davies' crucial goal-line clearance and the intervention of the woodwork, the Blues would have left Turf Moor with little reward for their efforts.

It had all looked so easy when King's fluky 11th minute effort put the Blues ahead.

Nikola Zigic flicked a David Murphy throw-in square to his strike partner and he spun away from David Edgar before shooting.

Keeper Lee Grant got a hand to the ball but a bizarre ricochet sent it crashing into his head and bouncing over his goal line.

While the Blues were fortunate to survive when Edgar headed wide from a Kieran Trippier corner, it was not until the second half that Burnley truly came to life.

Keeper Boaz Myhill was lucky to find Davies covering behind him when his clearance dropped to Austin.

The striker's shot from distance was heading for the net until Davies stepped in to head clear.

Birmingham continued to live dangerously. Ings and Austin both hit the bar from close range during a goal mouth scramble sparked by sub Junior Stanislas' cross.

Then Ings met Ross Wallace's cross and guided his header past the despairing dive of Myhill.

Chris Hughton's men reacted superbly with Mutch scoring and then earning an assist on the third.

His angled shot was spilled by Grant and David Murphy followed up to blast home with two minutes left.

And there was enough time left for Ings to miss once again, this time firing over from six yards out.

Hughton said: "We had to ride our luck a little bit but getting the second goal was the turning point.

"Now we have picked up two big results away from home. We have to keep this form going right the way through.

"Once you are in the top six, it's for us to drop out and the only way we will drop out is if we don't get the results you need."

Burnley chief Eddie Howe said: "We bombarded them in the second half and it was never a 3-1 game.

"When we scored I thought we would go on and win it but the same old frailties have come back to haunt us. They were poor goals to concede and it's something we have go eradicate."

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