Cotterill states that Middlesbrough wouldn't have defeated Birmingham without Assombalonga's influence

Cotterill states that Middlesbrough wouldn't have defeated Birmingham without Assombalonga's influence

The Birmingham City manager has stated that the Boro summer signing was the "difference" between the two sides on Wednesday night.

Danial Kennedy

Birmingham City manager Steve Cotterill questioned whether or not Middlesbrough would have won the clash at the Riverside Stadium without star striker Britt Assombalonga, as the Congolese striker's first-half double gave them a 2-0 victory over the Blues on Teesside.

He was the difference 

It has been another tough season at St. Andrew's for Birmingham fans, having started the season with Harry Redknapp who was sacked after eight games having produced just the one victory with Cotterill coming in as his replacement.

They seemed to have improved under his helm but not enough as they continue to struggle at the bottom of the Championship table heading into this clash, but had a boost of confidence having defeated Nottingham Forest at the weekend. 

However they were no match for Garry Monk's side as goals from Assombalonga in the 10th and 41st minutes secured the three points, the Midlands side picked up their pace in the second period but couldn't change the result and Cotterill stated post-match that the home side wouldn't have been victorious without Assombalonga's influence. 

"If Boro don't have Assombalonga tonight," Cotterill told his post-match press conference. "Do you think they win that game?" 

"He was the difference and he was on to the first shot for his goal," the coach stated to the gathered press. "The second, he's made two runs, one for the defender and one for himself. When he gets in there, he's calm and then he scores."

"We have probably created enough chances tonight to have scored or put Middlesbrough on the back foot," Cotterill added. "We gave away a couple of silly, sloppy goals. Both were preventable, I know most goals are."

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It's more of lack of belief 

Birmingham's form away from St Andrew's has certainly been where they have faltered most so far this season, with Wednesday's result meaning that they have only managed to pick up one point from a possible 27. 

One point currently separates themselves and the relegation zone and doesn't look to be getting any easier as they travel to title contenders Sheffield United on Saturday, but when questioned on what the missing element is from his side Cotterill stated that he believes that it is down to "belief". 

"I didn't see us pull out of any tackles," he said. "I didn't see us not compete. It's more belief really." 

"Until you've actually been out there," the coach proclaimed. "And been in the arena yourself and know what it's like."

"When you've been out there yourself," Cotterill concluded. "It's a different game if it's not going right for you."