EFL

Tony Mowbray warns Birmingham they will need to improve despite win at Stoke

By Sports Desk January 20, 2024

Tony Mowbray praised Birmingham after they “found a way” to edge a lively 2-1 win at Stoke.

The new boss stretched his unbeaten start to three games in all competitions as Blues rose to eight points above the relegation zone.

“I’m really pleased for the supporters behind the goal,” said Mowbray.

“It’s my first experience of the away support from Birmingham City and it was big and loud and noisy; it’s great that they could celebrate a win.

“We found a way today and that’s the important thing in football but we can’t play like we did in that second half every week because we won’t win many matches.”

Jay Stansfield opened the scoring inside 10 minutes as he rifled home his eighth league goal of the season.

The Potters responded positively to their early setback but struggled to convert their dominance into chances.

And the visitors capitalised shortly after the restart thanks to Juninho Bacuna’s exquisite free-kick from 25 yards.

Jordan Thompson halved the hosts’ arrears late on, but Birmingham held on for a vital victory.

“First half, the game plan was good and we looked like we could break away and score,” Mowbray added.

“That’s probably the best football that Stoke have played for a long time and Steven (Schumacher) deserves a lot of credit for that.

“They were good today and in the second half, we went into protection mode, but we managed to see it out.

“You can give your team organisation and structure and I thought we saw the game out well today against as good a Stoke team as I’ve seen.

“I like a lot of what we’ve got at this football club; I’ve just got to change the mentality a little bit.

“The vast majority of them are very humble and hard-working and it’s hurt them where they are, but we’re only here to win now.”

It was a frustrating afternoon for Stoke, whose five-match unbeaten start under Steven Schumacher came to an end.

Bae Jun-ho struck the bar, Michael Rose failed to convert from close-range and Ryan Mmaee missed a host of chances for the toothless Potters.

“It was disappointing to lose it and I don’t think we deserved to lose it,” said Schumacher.

“The performance was good bar a couple mistakes, but it’s two brilliant bits of quality that has decided the outcome.

“We got more in the dangerous areas than Birmingham did, but we didn’t make the most of it, so that’s disappointing.

“It’s important that we are creating chances; that wasn’t the case a few weeks ago, so now I need the lads to show their quality and composure.

“With the way we’ll play and the way we’ll get forward, they’ll get chances so now we’ve got to find a way to take them.

“I’ve got belief in the squad; the players have got quality but they’ve got to make the most of big opportunities.”

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