November 9, 2015 by Shane Ireland
Birmingham City raced to a 5-2 win against Fulham on Saturday in a dominant display which saw five different names on the Blues scoresheet.
The impressive victory consolidated Gary Rowett’s side’s 6th place in the Championship table, three points ahead of Cardiff City in 7th.
Here are five talking points from Blues’ commanding Craven Cottage performance.
Stephen Gleeson is invaluable to Blues
Gary Rowett said “I don’t think there is a better passing defensive midfielder in the division,” following Gleeson’s superb display on Saturday.
The boss revealed that “Ireland were here today looking…again” at the former MK Dons man, who hasn’t played internationally since 2007.
But it is not hard to see why Gleeson is seemingly on the verge of a call-up after another fine performance.
He is without doubt, Blues’ best midfielder when in possession and Saturday’s starring role highlighted his brilliant range of passing and a fine 25-yard-strike was the icing on a very, very sweet cake.
Toral is back with a bang
Jon Toral’s equally excellent performance showed why he has forced his way back into Rowett’s starting eleven.
The Arsenal loanee started the season with two goals in the opening two games, but his form dipped and the Blues boss preferred to play with three holding midfielders.
But Toral looked dangerous when entering the fray as a substitute in the 0-0 draw against Blackburn last week which saw him rewarded with a start at Fulham, and he grabbed the opportunity with open arms, bagging Blues’ third goal and supporting Clayton Donaldson brilliantly throughout.
The Don deserved his goal
Donaldson registered another tireless performance and it was great to see the striker get on the scoresheet.
He found the roof of the net from close range on 82 minutes – only his fifth goal of the season – after Maikel Kieftenbeld’s shot was saved.
Donaldson doesn’t always get his just rewards despite consistent dogged displays but he was in the right place at the right time to bag Blues’ fourth of the afternoon.
Viv has a part to play
Viv Solomon-Otabor scored his first senior goal after being introduced as substitute with 10 minutes remaining.
He picked the ball up 30 yards inside Blues’ half, before running the length of the pitch, cutting past two defenders and firing the ball into the near corner.
His cameos off the bench this season, which have usually been short but encouraging, have seen Solomon emerge as a useful option for Rowett.
If he continues to impress, he may even find himself in the manager’s starting line-up.
Demarai can be Grayt
For all of the discourse surrounding Demarai Gray’s future in the summer, he has, so far this season, shown only glimpses of his true potential.
This is to be expected for a prospect as young as 19, but Gray tantalised the Fulham back-line with a blend of direct running and raw pace that created opportunities for his team-mates on Saturday.
He may not be the finished article, but Gray – who received his first England U21 call up yesterday – is vital to Blues’ play off ambitions.