Birmingham City overcame a second-half Burnley fightback last night to steal a considerable march on their Championship play-off rivals.
Marlon King fired his 16th of the season to give the Blues an early lead in a first-half of few chances. The home side had then been sparked into life by the introduction of Junior Stanislas before the hour and Burnley's forward pair of Danny Ings and Charlie Austin both hit the crossbar before the former levelled.
Chris Hughton's side responded instantly and Jordon Mutch netted his first goal for the club from King's cross, leaving full-back David Murphy to apply gloss to the scoreline when Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant dropped Mutch's cross.
"I thought over the 90 minutes we just deserved it," said Hughton. "We had to ride our luck a little bit."
Birmingham are now three points clear of seventh-placed Middlesbrough, who are outside the top six on goal difference, having won their game in hand on the clutch of teams on 63 points.
At the turn of the year Eddie Howe's Clarets also harboured play-off ambitions, but they remain 16th and on a run of four wins in 16 matches.
"I thought when we equalised we were going to go on and win the game," Howe said. "The momentum was all with us and we've conceded a really poor second goal. It's very tough when you work so hard to get back in a game and you conceded straight away."
Burnley Grant; Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, Marney (Stanislas, 59), McCann, Bartley, McQuoid (Howieson, 84), Austin, Ings. Substitutes not used Jensen (gk), Hewitt, Fletcher.
Birmingham City Myhill; Ramage, Davies, Caldwell, Murphy, Burke, Elliott, N'Daw, Zigic (Townsend, 76), King (Huseklepp, 90), Mutch. Substitutes not used Doyle (gk), Gomis, Redmond.
Referee J Waugh (South Yorkshire).