Birmingham 0-2 Barnsley: Tykes claim win in relegation battle
Last Updated: 24/02/18 7:34pm
Barnsley recorded only their second win in 18 games with a 2-0 victory over Birmingham in a desperate relegation battle at St Andrew's.
Jose Morais, Barnsley's new manager, was delighted with the success in only his second game in charge which enabled the Tykes to leapfrog their opponents in the lower reaches of the Sky Bet Championship.
Barnsley bounced back from their 4-1 defeat against Millwall and their success was carved out by Oli McBurnie, who is on loan from Swansea.
He opened the scoring after 12 minutes and then missed a penalty, only to then be on hand to notch his second goal in the 36th minute.
Poor Birmingham dropped back into the relegation area as they slumped to their fourth successive defeat with their fans calling for the head of manager Steve Cotterill.
Birmingham's first direct attack produced a commendable double save by Barnsley goalkeeper Nick Townsend. Jeremie Boga worked his way into a shooting position only to watch Townsend make a block. The ball spilled out to Che Adams only for Townsend make another close-range save to keep Barnsley in the game.
The two saves were followed by the Tykes storming into a 12th-minute lead. A right-wing cross from Mamadou Thiam was met by McBurnie to hook the ball into net to the right of David Stockdale.
One irate Birmingham fan displayed his displeasure by tossing a ticket at manager Cotterill and was immediately escorted out of the ground. Cotterill later came in for heated criticism from the Birmingham fans.
Matters could have become even worse for the hosts in the 16th minute when Marc Roberts impeded McBurnie who then wasted the penalty as Stockdale dived low to his left to make an excellent save to save Birmingham further embarrassment.
The signs were not good for Birmingham following three successive defeats during which time they had conceded eight goals. Frustrations spilled over with Sam Gallagher collecting the first yellow card which only provided further proof of Birmingham's desperation.
Barnsley, growing in confidence against a disjointed Birmingham, applied a killer touch when McBurnie was again on the mark in the 36th minute.
Stockdale saved a close-range effort but was unable to maintain possession which allowed the alert McBurnie to turn and fire home from a couple of yards.
The Tykes resolutely defended their lead as Birmingham attempted to atone for their first-half shortcomings, with attempts from Gallagher and Jacques Maghoma. But it was to no avail and only put the luckless Cotterill under even greater pressure.
Steve Cotterill: "I've been bashed on the head so many times this season. It's a hard job trying to get the team to gel. You get nothing by throwing your players under the bus. I would rather stand strong and protect them from taking any flak. It would only make them worse and make my job even more difficult. I am going to remain thoroughly professional and take the stick if it keeps it away from the players who are not as confident as they were a month ago.
"We never got going against Barnsley and the players appeared frightened playing at home. The opposition were fully aware of this fact and we were obviously fearful. I understand the fans' frustration. The team has not been winning for a long time. It is not just under me. I am copping the flak for everything that has gone on before. It's the first time I've had this sort of problem with the fans but that is not bad when you consider I've been doing the job for 21 years."
Jose Morais: "I am delighted with the win, the performance and attitude of my players. I am expecting many surprises from my players as I am a positive person. I believe in their quality, I believe in them and I believe that they can do so much more.
"I do not think about relegation. There are a lot of games to be played and we will win enough games. This result was important and the win over Birmingham is a big motive to celebrate."