19 August 2023

John Eustace vows to ‘stay level-headed’ as Birmingham extend unbeaten start

19 August 2023

John Eustace was keeping both feet firmly on the ground after goals from substitutes Koji Miyoshi and Lukas Jutkiewicz maintained Birmingham’s impressive start to the Championship campaign.

Miyoshi, a 40th-minute replacement for the injured Ethan Laird, volleyed his first Blues goal in spectacular fashion deep into first-half stoppage time.

And Jutkiewicz settled the outcome six minutes from time with a close-range finish, shortly after being sent on for Keshi Anderson.

Blues boss Eustace said: “It was an outstanding effort by the whole group, but it’s important not to get carried away because this team has still got to grow together.

“Koji Miyoshi came off the bench against Leeds and was really exciting. Today again he showed what an important player he is going be for us.

“He was out for nine months before joining us, so we have to be careful how we manage him. But his talent is there for all to see and he will get better with games.

“We had a few injuries that could have hurt us. Ethan Laird and Siriki Dembele picked up muscle strains, which might have been disruptive.

“But we adapted really well. Juninho Bacuna moved to right-back and looked as if he had played there all his life.

“We set out to be strong and competitive in all areas of the pitch and that was the case throughout the game.

“We paid Bristol respect because Nigel Pearson has been with them for a while now and is building something.

“They are a good side whose strengths we had to counter and to a man the players did their jobs.

“Last season we were beaten here. But this is a new group of players with a new mentality.

“Obviously, the season has started well for us. But we will stay level-headed and keep working hard because the Championship is so competitive that you have to turn up every week.”

The Robins had centre-back Rob Dickie sent off for a second yellow card on 75 minutes and could have no complaints, even though Nahki Wells missed a great chance to level on 82 minutes just before Jutkiewicz’s clincher.

Manager Pearson admitted: “It was a bad day at the office for us. We didn’t play very well.

“We were laboured in our passing and made too many unforced errors, with things like the ball slipping under players’ feet.

“We should have been level at the break, but went in a goal down because an individual switched off and didn’t do his job at a set-piece.

“I still believe we are better than we were last season and will do well. We were on the front foot even with 10 men towards the end and missed a great chance to equalise.

“But we didn’t manage the key moments well. You have to take your chances when they come along in the Championship and not concede poor goals because the difference between winning and losing in so many games is very small.

“We are looking at the possibility of doing some business before the transfer deadline, but it will have to be right for the club and in line with what we are building.

“I didn’t go overboard when we won away last week and it’s certainly not all doom and gloom today.”

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