Blues were trailing by two goals but responded terrifically in the last half-hour to earn a very creditable point against the high-flying Eagles, courtesy of goals from super sub Nikola Zigic and home debutant Papa Bouba Diop.
“When we’re looking down the barrel we’ve again produced a half-an-hour performance to get back into the game and potentially win it,” commented Clark. “There was only one team that was going to win it by the time the full-time whistle went and we were in the ascendancy. I’ve said to the players in the dressing room, why can’t we play with that drive and determination from the first whistle? That would give us a far better opportunity of getting some consistency in our game.
"We seem to have the shackles on us when it’s 0-0 and we don’t play with that same freedom. We’ve created opportunities in the last half-hour by putting Crystal Palace under pressure and mixing up our game.”
Callum Reilly was a surprise inclusion in the Blues starting line-up and the teenager produced a highly encouraging first start for the club. In fact the team that finished the game included no fewer than four teenagers, with fellow local lad Mitch Hancox also getting more than 30 minutes action due to an injury to Paul Caddis. Clark felt that the youngsters’ enthusiasm gave the side a lift.
“Callum and Mitch were outstanding,” said the Blues boss. “I love what they’re about. They’re Birmingham City fans through and through and they’re grabbing this opportunity with both hands. They’ve got the desire and passion but also they’ve got the ability. They are the future for me, what they’re about. That’s what I’m looking to do. It’ll take time but they’ve got a big part to play in what we can do here.”
Reilly was partnered in central midfield by a man at the other end of the age spectrum - goal hero Diop. Clark said of his former Fulham team-mate: “He’s a very experienced professional, a terrific man and very down to earth. I thought with all his experience he would help young Callum along. And he’s always a threat at set-plays, as he’s shown today.”