New Birmingham head coach John Eustace admitted his team has a point to prove after overcoming last season’s brush with relegation.
A narrow 2-1 win over Huddersfield thanks to first-half goals from Scott Hogan and home debutant Przemyslaw Placheta, on loan from Norwich City, gave Eustace’s outfit a seemingly comfortable platform for victory.
But it was a different story after the break and Danny Ward pulled one back for Huddersfield as the hosts had to defend for long periods.
Blues would have gone down from the Sky Bet Championship last season but for Derby’s 21-point deduction and Eustace believes his players have plenty of questions to answer despite taking four points from two games.
“Last season we didn’t finish well and we should have been relegated if Derby hadn’t had all the points deducted, so the group has a point to prove and the players we’re bringing in do too,” said Eustace.
“We’ve showed we’re very competitive and hard to play against.
“Collectively this group want to play for each other and most importantly they want to make the fans very proud here at Birmingham City.
“We have started OK but no one’s getting carried away – there’s a hell of a lot of hard work and dark days to come as well.
“But you could see today the fans really got us through that second half and our job is to get the fans, players and staff connected again.
“Hopefully with performances like that, a good footballing performance and a good strong, collective defensive unit in that second half, that’s all going to help.”
Hogan gave Blues a fifth-minute lead when he headed home Juninho Bacuna’s cross from the right for his first goal since January.
It was 2-0 in the 45th minute when Placheta’s first-time angled drive was palmed into the net by goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.
Ward’s neat finish put the game back in the balance and Huddersfield head coach Danny Schofield is convinced his side can challenge again after being beaten play-off finalists last season.
“There are definitely encouraging signs. It’s a fantastic group of human beings in that dressing room and they showed that last season,” he said.
“The only thing I ask of them is that when they come into the changing room and they look in the mirror, they see the person they want to see and that’s not letting themselves down.”
Schofield felt Huddersfield were slightly hard done but must cut out the errors if they are to bounce back after successive defeats.
“I thought we were pretty dominant in the second half. The attacking play, momentum, and the rhythm of the game was with us I think pretty much from the start,” he added.
“That’s why I felt hard done by because fundamentally we were off in terms of first and second balls, technical detail on the passes and retaining the ball at times was pretty low.
“But it was a much-improved second-half performance and we maybe deserved more.
“We need to reflect on this and see how we can improve and start more on that front foot with more intensity and quality.
“There were moments when we passed the ball and suffered the counter-attack, and I think that’s what ultimately cost us.”
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