Birmingham City boss Lee Clark

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark has praised his players’ spirit after their Capital One Cup exit.

The Blues were reduced to 10 men late on in the first half, after Wade Elliot was red carded for elbowing Stoke’s Oussama Assaidi.

But despite being 3-1 down to the Premier League side, the Midlands club fought back to take the game to extra time, only for Stoke to win on penalties. However, despite the result, boss Clark was full of pride after watching his side’s comeback.

“You want to win every game and you hope that the efforts that the lads showed over the course of the 120 minutes would be rewarded with the lottery of winning the penalties but it wasn’t to be,” Clark told the club’s official website.

“But it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m immensely proud of that group of players to a man. They’ve given everything and ticked every box – pride, passion, work ethic, quality on the ball and never giving in.

“When you go down to ten men against a Premier League team you can easily go gung-ho trying to press for another goal and they end up just picking you off and hitting you for four, five or six, but they managed the game well and we took the risks at the right time in the game. I couldn’t have wished for or hoped for any more than those players gave me tonight under the circumstances.”

It was a much-needed display of fight from Clark’s Birmingham players, who have often struggled to make an impact in the Championship this season. They host Charlton on Saturday.