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Blues fall guy Clemence atones in winning style.

Byline: James Nursey

Birmingham City midfielder Stephen Clemence was entitled to look thrilled after Saturday's 2-0 victory over Portsmouth, which lifts Blues to fourth in the Premiership.

Clemence was the fall guy last week following Birmingham's embarrassing 1-0 defeat in the second round of the Carling Cup at Division Two side Blackpool.

The 25-year-old, who joined Blues in January from Tottenham Hotspur, missed a penalty at Bloomfield Road but responded superbly against Pompey at St Andrew's by scoring one and laying on another for Stan Lazaridis.

Clemence said: 'I was disappointed I missed the penalty and I just wanted to come here and try to put in a good performance and get the three points.

'Obviously, to score and to make a goal is really pleasing. I did feel low and especially all day Wednesday when we had a day off.

'It was one of the lowest times I've had because I did feel I had let a lot people down but, hopefully, that has made up for it.'

Birmingham's victory means they are still unbeaten this season and Clemence is thoroughly enjoying Blues' success.

He said: 'I've never been in a position like this - even when I was at Spurs - when we had this sort of start.

'When I came here from Spurs, I was expecting a scrap at the end of the table because that's where we were, but the results have picked up since towards the end of last season.

'It's a nice feeling. It's good going into games when you know you are going to give the opposition a game and it's going to be hard for the opposition to break you down.

'We have got a good goalkeeper and a great back four, there's no doubt about that. We defend from the front and the really good thing about Birmingham is the team spirit.

'Everyone gives 100 per cent and everyone who comes here knows that they will have to work hard to break us down.

'If the opposition gets past one of us, there's usually someone else ready to make a tackle. There's always someone backing you up.

'It feels great, but we know it is a long season and things can change very quickly. We have got Manchester United next and that's a big test.

'Then we have Chelsea after that, but it is nice going into those games with points on the board.

'Man United are in a league of their own, but we'll do our best and hopefully give them a good game.'

Birmingham manager Steve Bruce said he was delighted to see Clemence make amends following the Blackpool fiasco and said the midfielder had worked hard to make an impact since joining the club.

Bruce said: 'For pounds 250,000 from Tottenham, Clemence has been magnificent since he walked through the door.

'He was in one of those horrible situations, playing reserve-team football week in week out, but when he came he really worked hard to improve his fitness.

'He deserves to get a day like this when he scores one and makes one. It means all the work he has done is worthwhile.'


Stephen Clemence celebrates a winning reply to his midweek woe
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Title Annotation:Football
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 29, 2003
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