Lee Bowyer insists Birmingham’s recent upturn in form has laid down a challenge to his side’s Sky Bet Championship relegation rivals.
Seven points from four games against some of the division’s top sides have improved the Blues’ survival hopes since new boss Bowyer took the reins.
He said after the latest result, a 0-0 draw at Brentford: “Seven points in four games is what we had to do to draw other sides into it and ask them the question ‘can you compete and do what we are trying to do?’
“We’ve taken seven points when everyone expected us to get none and I can’t praise the players enough, they have been excellent. And they gave everything again tonight.”
Bowyer praised the resolute performance of his side as they earned a clean sheet and point at third-placed Brentford.
He added: “The players got something they deserved through hard work. To come here and take a point from a top side like Brentford is some achievement.
“We were causing them problems at times and they caused us problems, which I knew and expected. But when our keeper was called upon he stepped up and made saves so overall I’d like to think we deserved it. In fact at the end, I thought ‘we’re going to nick this’.”
The only downside to a positive evening in west London was the loss of midfielder Jon Toral with a hamstring injury.
Bowyer added: “Jon’s injury is a shame. I’m learning every day about the players and Jon is one of those I am thinking ‘I like him and know what he can bring’ and he is working hard off the ball.
“People expected us to get nothing from our last four but looking at the squad and the physicality we have, if we get the basics right we will cause teams problems. It’s given us a chance and now it’s a different ball game.”
Frustrated Brentford head coach Thomas Frank blamed luck, fine margins and a lack of quality in front of goal for his side’s failure to take three points.
“The first half was very good and we created lots of chances. If we’d taken one it would have been a completely different game – but we didn’t so we are here and it’s 0-0,” he said.
“The first goal would have been so important for us but it’s also key for us to look at performances and they haven’t been bad.
“Is it quality, fine margins, coincidence, confidence or luck? I’m not sure but we are not quite the well-oiled machine that destroyed everything in that 21-game unbeaten run.”
Frank insisted the key ingredients of hard work, attitude and togetherness were still present in the squad but conceded automatic promotion now looks like a long shot.
He said: “We will continue to take it one game at a time but I can see how many games we have left, and it is for Watford to lose. They have done well and all credit to them, but the only thing we can focus on is ourselves.”
The main challenge for Brentford now is to make the play-offs but Frank revealed his influential duo of midfielder Josh Dasilva and left back Rico Henry are in a “race against time” to make the end-of-season showdown.
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