Birmingham 0 Barnsley 2: Morais' Reds kickstart survival Journey under new boss at St Andrews
New boss Jose Morais took a leaf out of Journey's book and told Barnsley fans: 'don't stop believing'.
On-loan striker Oli McBurnie showed his class as his brace handed Morais his first win in charge.
The Scot also missed a penalty at St Andrews as the Reds leapfrogged Birmingham to move out of the relegation zone.
Morais said: “For the fans who came I would like to say thank you for coming.
“Don’t stop believing because we will have more days like that.
“We’ve only just started together so lets continue in this way.
“The win is a big boost for us and it gives us belief in the work we are doing.
“Winning ends a long non positive trend that the team had.
“We were very attacking and we sort of continued where we left off in the second half of the last game.
“All the boys did really well and it was a very consistent job.
“We do not have a lot of time to work, but the players are picking things up very fast.”
Two first-half strikes from McBurnie got the job done by half-time, but he could have made it a forgone conclusion with his missed penalty.
Early on Barnsley ‘keeper Nick Townsend produced a breathtaking double-save to deny Jeremie Boga and then Sam Gallagher. The first for McBurnie was a well-taken volley from Mamadou Thiam’s cross after 12 minutes.
McBurnie then forced a superb double save from David Stockdale minutes later. Former Reds’ skipper Marc Roberts felled McBurnie, with Stockdale guessing correctly to save the spot kick.
McBurnie finally doubled his tally with a simple tap in after Stockdale failed to hold Kieffer Moore’s header.
After the break the Reds had to defend to keep their lead at two.
Criag Gardner, brother of Reds’ loanee Gary, fired wide before Townsend parried a dangerous cross with no blue shirts around to convert.
Townsend had a clearance charged down by Gallagher with Liam Lindsay making a super block to deny Che Adams.
McBurnie’s brace was a delight for the Reds and showed he could be the man to keep them up.
It also begs the question about where they could have been had his loan move materialised in the summer, instead of in January.
Three goals in as many starts show the Scottish striker has the quality to keep them in the division.
Morais said: “I am expecting everything from him because he is so talented.
“He is a player with quality and he’s also an extraordinary man.
“I am expecting a lot of good surprises from him and one of the surprises I can take home with me is that he didn’t score the penalty.
“He wanted to give a little more suspense with the result, otherwise it was the perfect performance from him.”
McBurnie’s move in the summer collapsed after he had trained with the Reds due to the relevant paperwork not being filed on time.
It was not a huge miss at the start of the season with Tom Bradshaw banging in the goals.
But when the Welshman lost his form the Reds struggled in front of goal - something which the addition of McBurnie could have solved.
Those struggles in the final third have left the Reds where they are, with Saturday’s win the first time they have scored twice in a game since beating the Blues by the same result at the start of November.
And if you cannot score twice then you can only win games 1-0, something they only achieved once since first beating Birmingham this season.
Morais’ feeling pays off
Morais had a feeling in his stomach on the morning of the game. Thankfully for the Reds it paid off and it did not turn out to be a bug of some sort.Morais said: “I had a feeling that it would be a fantastic day.
“I woke up in the morning and said the sun is shining, it was a fantastic day and that it would continue like that until the end of the day.
“It’s lucky that it happened like that and I’m delighted for my players and the work we’re doing.”
With 13 games left to beat the drop, Reds’ fans will be hoping Morais has many more good feelings on the morning of the game.
It will be a battle to stay up, but the win will hugely boost the dressing room after a tough couple of months on and off the pitch.
The performance, led by the fantastic McBurnie, will undoubtedly give the players the confidence that they can stay up.
And in Morais they have an optimistic, upbeat character who can lead them to safety and most importantly make the players themselves believe they have what it takes to stay up.