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Lee Bowyer hails ‘improving’ loan keeper Matija Sarkic after Birmingham draw

Birmingham City v Preston North End – Sky Bet Championship – St. Andrew’s
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Birmingham boss Lee Bowyer hailed the performance of ‘improving’ keeper Matija Sarkic, after his side were held to a 0-0 draw by Preston.

Sarkic, on loan from Wolves, and opposing keeper Daniel Iversen, made good saves before the game tailed off poorly in the second half.

Bowyer said: “Both keepers played well and made good saves and I’m pleased for Matija. He’s improving.

“He’s at a different club, with different lads in a different environment. There’s a lot he’s had to adjust to but he’s doing that and it’s good to see.

“It’s good for us to get back to a clean sheet because you always have a chance of winning games.

“It could have been 2-2 at half time and even the fourth official said ‘how is this 0-0?’ But, in the end, it wasn’t very pretty and it was two tough sides battling and fighting for everything. It was more of a battle than a football match.

“In the second half, there were less chances although I thought we edged it. But ultimately, it was always going to be a slip or setpiece to win the game and we didn’t take the chance that arrived.”

Birmingham certainly had had their chances early on with Troy Deeney sending a diving header against the bar and Tahith Chong forcing Iversen into a good save.

The home side also had the only clear opening of the second half with Preston’s Ben Whiteman clearing off the line to prevent an own goal from Andrew Hughes and Iversen parrying away Maxime Colin’s goal-bound strike.

Preston had chances in the first half too with Josh Earl seeing an effort pushed wide by Sarkic and Emil Riis Jakobsen also denied.

Preston boss Frankie McEvoy felt a draw was a fair reflection of the game but also claimed his side could have had a penalty following a challenge on Patrick Bauer inside the area.

“Neither team did enough to win the game in my opinion,” he said.

“I felt first half, on chances, we had the better of them. There were a couple of good chances we could have stuck away and that was a bit frustrating.

“But, overall, we both lacked quality in final third. We were desperate to get that first goal because goals change games but the longer it goes 0-0, the mindset changes and you don’t want to lose the game.

“I felt we could have had a penalty for a clip on Pat but the opinion of the officials was it was a tangle of legs.

“If you get a goal, the game can burst open. I was hoping we might get it but we didn’t.

“Ultimately, we didn’t create enough after the break but they didn’t put us under much pressure and defensively we stood up and did well. I’m not too disappointed.”