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Lee Bowyer hails Birmingham survival as "some achievement"

Lee Bowyer hails Birmingham survival as
© Reuters
Lukas Jutkiewicz's second-half brace clinched Blues' Championship status.

Birmingham head coach Lee Bowyer hailed his team's survival with two games left as "some achievement" after a 2-1 win left opponents Derby in relegation trouble.

Bowyer has transformed Birmingham, who secured Championship safety with a second-half Lukas Jutkiewicz double.

He said: "With two games to go, it's some achievement. We had 10 (to play) when I came in and we've only lost one against a good Watford side, so to turn it around and say we are safe with two games to go is very good.

"This is why the players need some credit because when I came through the door, mentally they must have been in a really bad place. To be able to turn it round in a short space of time is tough.

"I've been a player and know if you're in a bad place you might need a little bit of luck or something, but as a group they've just done the basics and then they started to grow and grow."

Derby had taken the lead in the 36th minute when Lee Buchanan got behind Birmingham on the left and his low cross was tapped in by Colin Kazim-Richards.

But Birmingham improved after the break with a change of formation and deservedly equalised in the 62nd minute when a long throw was flicked on and Jutkiewicz powered a header into the net.

They should have scored again in the 74th minute when a low cross flashed across the area but Alen Halilovic smashed a shot against a post from a tight angle.

But there was no escape for Derby in the 84th minute when they failed to deal with a cross and Jutkiewicz, at the back post, stooped to head into the bottom corner.

Bowyer said: "I had to change shape, they were better than us first half.

"We looked tired, they were sharper and better than us at what we're good at and that's competing and second balls.

"It was a case of taking a gamble on putting on all my comfortable players in possession and go to a diamond. I put all my footballing players on in midfield and we caused them problems and deserved to win in the end."

Martyn Waghorn almost rescued a point for Derby in stoppage time but his 20-yard free-kick curled just wide.

Manager Wayne Rooney said: "I thought for the majority of the game we coped really well but two key moments have cost us the game.

"I questioned the players' fight and character and attitude on Tuesday. I can't do that today, I thought they gave everything and left everything on the pitch, but the result is disappointing."

County go into their final two games four points clear of Rotherham, who have two games in hand, and Sheffield Wednesday.

"I felt today was a chance in terms of where we are to be in a very good position if we win the game, so it's frustrating.

"But on the other hand it still gives us a chance. As I said a couple of games ago, other teams have to pick up points but we can't keep relying on other teams, we keep letting opportunities slip.

"Now we have to go into the games knowing we have to win because we can't hope that other teams have lost."

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