Birmingham manager Gary Rowett hailed Stephen Gleeson's goalscoring performance in the 1-0 Championship home win over struggling Blackburn.

Gary Rowett praises Stephen Gleeson after 'crucial' goal

Gary Rowett praises Stephen Gleeson after 'crucial' goal

Gleeson hammered home a second-half winner, having earlier wasted two fine chances to break the deadlock.

Rowett said: "He had a couple of chances earlier in the game but he made no mistake with his third.

"He spotted the space and followed the ball and ends up in the box and makes no mistake at the third time of asking.

"Since he came in from MK Dons he has shown some real maturity and this was a crucial goal.

"You can play against teams near the bottom who can turn you over. We have to be mindful of these teams.

"We caused them problems but they caused us one or two. Our second half was better. We tend to start slowly but get stronger and that is testament to our experience and game management.

"The key moment for me was early in the second half when Adam Legzdins made a fantastic save from Marvin Emnes. It was a crucial save and we went away to score the winner."

A fifth win of the season keeps leaves Birmingham in the play-off positions and Rowett added: "I am pretty happy with what we have achieved in losing one game in 11.

"To have looked strong in all those games and to have the points we have, we are happy. But again we are hungry to keep improving and I'm happy with our prospects."

Blackburn battled bravely in their effort to move out of the bottom three but an inspirational substitution on the part of Rowett sparked the vital goal.

He sent on Diego Fabbrini a minute before Gleeson's goal and the Italian, who gave a good account of himself, put Jonathon Spector in possession with an astute pass. He in turn sent David Cotterill clear down the right and Gleeson was on had to blast his shot into the roof of the net.

Blackburn more than held their own for long spells. Emnes in particular posed problems for the Birmingham defence and early in the second half went close to putting Rovers ahead with a superb drive which forced Legzdins to make a flying save to his right to push the ball away from the top corner of the net.

Blackburn boss Owen Coyle, who faced criticism late in the game from the fans, admitted: "It was a hard-fought game. The margins were very fine.

"We could have picked up a point. If we had scored the first goal it could have been different as we had a couple of opportunities to score.

"The disappointment was that we were in possession before they scored the goal. Saying that, it was a wonderful finish from Gleeson.

"From our point of view it was avoidable as there were enough bodies around. It made it difficult because we had to make substitutions because of injuries.

"To be honest we huffed and puffed in the second half and their keeper made an outstanding save to prevent us (scoring) a goal.

"It was a very tight between a team which is flying at the top and we are scrapping at the bottom."