Final day relief as the Blues claimed a victory to end Fulham’s 23 match unbeaten run to stave relegation.
Before kick off, Birmingham were just two points above the drop, for Monk’s side to have gone down, both Barnsley and Burton needed to win and themselves to lose. It was possibly a case of Slavisa Jokanovic’s side underestimating Blues because the Cottagers came to St Andrews in a relaxed mood, kind of forgetting they needed a win to have any chance of reaching the Premier League automatically. Cardiff faced Reading, where they only needed to match Fulham’s result to go up.
Birmingham began the game on the front foot, taking it to Fulham. Monk went with Jutkiewicz and Gallagher up front, which was working. The partnership made the visitors panic at the back with the long ball tactic. The scoreline was quickly opened with a goal from Jutkiewicz. An over the top ball from Morrison gave Wes Harding time to run on to and he crossed for the Birmingham number 10 who followed home, 1-0 Blues.
Fulham have been branded the best passing team and they did show that at St Andrews, but didn’t have the answers to crack the Birmingham back four and it was soon two. Harlee Dean found space and nodded the ball home from a Jota cross, brilliant football from a side fighting for survival, against a side fighting for premier league football. Birmingham were in cruise control and knowing the fixtures went their way, made it that bit better!
Second half got underway and Fulham made a couple of attacking changes, which saw Aboubakar Kamara and Floyd Ayite introduced. The cottagers did not offer much throughout the game and knew at some point they needed to save themselves for the play offs, presuming Cardiff were matching their result or bettering it. Tom Cairney was influential in helping Fulham back into the game and he did with a solo effort, 2-1.
A tinge of anxiety in the home crowd, Fulham aren’t a team to be taken lightly, but Blues had enough in the tank and went on to kill the game off and condem Fulham to the play offs. A goal scored by Che Adams, mission accomplished from a Birmingham perspective. Birmingham 3-1 Fulham, both teams happy enough, but Fulham’s 23 match unbeaten run ended and Blues survived for another season in the Championship.
RB Harding , CB Morrison , CB Dean , LB Colin
RM Jota , CM Kieftenbeld , CM Davis , LM Maghoma
RS Gallagher , LS Jutkiewitz
RB Fredericks , CB Odoi , CB Ream , LB Targett
RCM Johansen , CM McDonald , LCM Cairney
RW Piazon , CF Mitrovic , LW Sessengon
Possession – Blues 28% , Fulham 78%
Shots – Blues 11 , Fulham 13
Shots on target – Blues 7 , Fulham 5
Corners – Blues 3 , Fulham 4
Fouls committed – Blues 14 , Fulham 8