When Stoke travelled to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest last weekend, a share of the spoils would have probably felt like an acceptable result.
However, having led 2-1 with a player advantage heading into stoppage time, Michael O’Neill and his squad were left hugely disappointed not to collect all three points at the home of a promotion rival.
Despite their unbeaten run being extended to three games, the Potters now sit in the bottom half of the table, and it has upped the stakes ahead of this game as they bid to stay in the race for the top six.
Possessing at least one match in hand on many of the teams above them, Stoke cannot be written off at this stage, but they need to take advantage of three favourable home matches which are coming up over the next two weeks.
Josh Maja has scored in two of his three outings since joining from Bordeaux, giving a much-needed lift to a forward line which has competition for places without goals being scored at a regular rate.
For all of the issues which have been occurring away from the pitch, Lee Bowyer deserves more credit than he has received for keeping Birmingham out of a relegation battle.
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Last weekend’s 3-0 demolition of Luton Town has taken their recent tally to eight points from a possible 18, their two defeats coming against Sheffield United and Bournemouth.
Now sitting 15 points clear of the drop zone, Blues can afford to relax to a certain extent, but they will want to remain on an upward trajectory having made some notable additions in January.
In four games, Juninho Bacuna and Lyle Taylor have chipped in with four goals and two assists between them, while fellow January signing Onel Hernandez also has three strikes and an assist from eight matches