Derek McInnes may have guided St Johnstone up the Scottish Premier League, but he discovered yesterday the size of the task awaiting him south of the border at Bristol City.
The Scot, appointed manager last week, was unable to prevent the Robins slipping to a fifth successive Championship defeat, which left them five points adrift of the safety mark.
Two Chris Burke goals proved the difference, however there remained enough positives for McInnes, who left St Johnstone fifth in the SPL, to suggest light at the end of the tunnel. He said: "We went behind to a poor goal. Up until then the game was pretty open, but Birmingham showed a wee bit more quality in the final third."
Blues, by contrast, are on a roll. This was a fifth straight triumph in all competitions for Chris Hughton's team. Were they to win their three games in hand, they would trail leaders Southampton by a single point.
The Birmingham manager said: "We were up against it at times. We know what can happen when teams have a new manager and I thought they gave him everything. Overall, I thought we had the better chances. It's very hard to keep the run going."
The Robins had opportunities. Marvin Elliott saw a dipping volley tipped on to the crossbar by Boaz Myhill, while Jon Stead dragged another chance wide. At the other end, it took a fine block from Liam Fontaine to deny Marlon King. Blues soon had their goal as the unmarked Burke tapped in Jean Beausejour's cross with nine minutes of the half left. In the final minute of added time, Burke broke the offside trap and latched on to Curtis Davies' header to fire under David James.Reuse content