Soccer

Gary Rowett: Win over Preston one of Birmingham’s ‘most important’ of the season

Jay Stansfield’s goal sealed victory.

Gary Rowett saw Birmingham claim an overdue victory .
Gary Rowett Gary Rowett saw Birmingham claim an overdue victory . (Ben Whitley/PA)

Interim manager Gary Rowett insists Birmingham have their belief back after clinching a priceless 1-0 win at home to Preston.

On-loan Fulham striker Jay Stansfield eased City’s relegation fears with the only goal of the game in the 68th minute.

Stansfield’s 10th Sky Bet Championship goal of the season secured Blues a deserved first victory in eight games since manager Tony Mowbray was last in the dugout.

“I think for the team it was one of the most important wins of the season,” said Rowett.

“I think this win gives them that belief again of knowing what we need to do to win, knowing what we need to do to compete in a game.

“It’s also about knowing that if we show that desire as a group, we’ve got the quality.

“It was an important three points. There’s no feeling like winning games – the feeling for the crowd after the game, the feeling after the final whistle, the feeling as a player coming back into the dressing room.

“Recognising and understanding what got you that feeling and replicating day in, day out is what makes people win all the time. That’s what we need to do.”

After four straight defeats and one point from the last 21, it was also Blues’ first clean sheet in nine.

City have been accused by critics of lacking fight, but it was certainly in evidence here.

“We showed that side of the game that I maybe felt, ‘Have we got that?’” added Rowett.

“All the players can do is prove people wrong. If I was a player and had that labelled at me I would want to roll my sleeves up and do something about it.”

Regarding the goal, Rowett added: “You want a one against one, but maybe not when you’ve got 10 seconds to think about it.

“But I wouldn’t have wanted it to drop to anyone else – he’s as good a finisher as we’ve got.”

Stansfield got the all-important goal with the first opening of the second half.

Koji Miyoshi’s short pass inside his own half carried little danger, but the sliding Andrew Hughes failed to cut it out and then Liam Lindsay completely missed the loose ball to gift Stansfield a clear route to goal.

Preston manager Ryan Lowe said of the goal: “We can’t legislate for that slip – it cost us a point, minimum.

“But we could have had the game out of sight in the first half when we had two glorious chances to score and it would have been a potentially game-over situation at 2-0.

“My centre half (Lindsay) who has been outstanding all season slipped at the wrong time.

“And if you give a player of that calibre a one-versus-one he will have every chance of scoring.”

Lowe felt his side did not do enough to get back into the game.

“We did everything we could, but decision making and a lack of quality has cost us,” he said.