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McLeish praises 'vintage Barry'

Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish has hailed the contribution made by FA Cup goal hero Barry Ferguson after admitting he has asked the midfielder to "modify his game" since moving to St Andrew's.

Ferguson was a free-scoring attacking-type player during his SPL days under McLeish at Rangers.

He has effectively adopted more of a holding role at Birmingham while his midfield partner Lee Bowyer has ventured forward and established himself as City's leading scorer with six goals this season.

But Ferguson turned back the clock with his surging run and clinical finish to earn the Blues a 1-0 home win over Nottingham Forest in last night's FA Cup third-round replay to secure an away tie with Everton.

McLeish said: "Barry has modified his game a bit. At Rangers he scored goals galore from midfield. In the treble-winning season, he got 18-20 goals, which was amazing for a midfielder.

"He made a lot of forward runs and, in that Rangers team, we had fantastic players who could play you into good positions.

"We've asked him to change a little since coming to Birmingham and Lee Bowyer has taken the share of the goals.

"But that was vintage Barry against Forest and the run forward, and the finish for the goal, was exemplary.

"It was a good finish and in the second half he was commanding for us.

"He was very instrumental in us getting the victory with his performance, apart from his goal. He has made a big contribution since he came here."

McLeish was happy to come through a tricky tie despite fielding a full strength side, and it needed keeper Joe Hart to make two fine saves before Ferguson struck in the 61st minute.

The former Scotland boss said: "Is it a relief? I wouldn't say it was relief. I was happy to get the victory. It was a tough game. We weren't at our best, but we still won it so it tells you a lot about the resilience of the players in that dressing room.

"Forest played well and they can count themselves unlucky to be out."

Birmingham extended their unbeaten run to 14 games and in the process ended Forest's 18-game winning run.

Forest boss Billy Davies made seven changes, as his priority is to gain promotion to the Premier League, but he admits his side were given a lesson in finishing.

He said: "I am scratching my head. I reflect on the two games and it is all about taking chances.

"We had 20 chances to their 14, we hit the target eight times, they hit it seven, and over the two games, their keeper has been man of the match.

"We've played three times against Premier League sides this season and we've lost two 1-0 and drew 0-0."


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