Blues’ thrilling 3-2 victory over third-placed Boro is another step in the right direction after a creditable midweek away point at Blackpool. But Clark is acutely aware of the rollercoaster nature of his side’s season so far with no back-to-back successes achieved to date. The manager is now looking for that key ingredient of consistency to held aid a rise up the npower Championship rankings.
“We’re delighted with that performance in terms of the second half and how we’ve fought and scrapped,” commented Clark afterwards. “Now we have to kick on and we can’t have some of the nonsense that we’ve had all season where we get a couple of positive results, like Blackpool and today, and then we come unstuck at Wolves.”
“We’ve got to kick on,” he reiterated. “Too many people talk the talk; you’ve got to walk the walk. Any team that wants to be successful has to go a run of games where there are more wins with maybe a few draws sprinkled in. You certainly need an unbeaten run with a lot of wins to kick you up the table. But the way we have delivered the win tonight gives us a lot of hope.”
Clark admitted that his team’s habit of not quite being at the races during the opening period again threatened to be their undoing. But he was pleased with the way his team stuck by their task and rose to the occasion with an exciting second-half display.
“I’m very pleased with that result against an excellent team that are going to be right up there in the top six,” said Clark. “Whether they get one of the top two slots, I don’t know. But Tony has assembled a terrific young squad who play with lots of flair and rotation in the middle of the pitch. Certainly when we went 1-0 down, they were dictating the game. We didn’t get near them, we weren’t pressing them quickly enough and when you’ve got good players that can get their head up and pick out numerous options, they are going to hurt you and that’s what they did.
“But we showed good character and resilience to stay in the game and get the penalty just before half-time. I said to the players before the game that our second-half performances have shown that we’re strong and fit and we need to stay in the game in the first half. I’d prefer it if we can start the actual game as well as we do the second-halves, but that seems to be the big bugbear for us at the moment. Fortunately this time we got the penalty and we didn’t have a mountain to climb in the second half - we were level-pegging.
“We did go a goal behind again to quite a sloppy goal, which looked like a lack of communication. But we showed great character again to win that game against a quality team.”
Marlon King was Blues’ goal-scoring hero with his clinical 81st minute finish securing the points – the striker’s second goal of the night to follow up his first-half penalty. Clark hailed his number nine’s match-winning performance which saw the former Boro loanee take his seasonal tally to 13 goals. “Marlon’s been fantastic for us,” added Clark. “The winner was right in the corner of the goal so it’s a terrific finish. He has scored goals throughout his career. He’s done it at whichever club he’s been at. His performances on top of his goals have been terrific. Even if he’s having an indifferent game, you try and keep him on the pitch because you know he can get you a goal out of nothing. He’s done it with all different types of striking partners, Nikola, Peter and Leroy. He’s been a catalyst for us.”