Andrew Shinnie: Birmingham City run down to hard work

Birmingham City midfielder Andrew Shinnie
Birmingham City midfielder Shinnie has had to be patient with his first-team chances this season

Birmingham City midfielder Andrew Shinnie says reaching second place in the Championship is reward for a lot of hard work from Gary Rowett's side.

Tuesday's 1-0 win at Bolton took Blues into the automatic promotion places for the first time since being relegated from the top flight in 2011.

And the key to that success is their unbeaten away record, having won four times and drawn twice on their travels.

"It's reward for how hard we've worked this season," Shinnie told BBC WM 95.6.

"The manager has got us well drilled. Everyone's in it together. And the away games play into our hands quite well.

"We're happy for any home team to have the ball. We love to sit and soak up the pressure, then hit them on the counter. It's just a bit more difficult to do that at home when other teams try to do the same to us."

Hull v Birmingham: Tale of the tape of two Cities
Hull's home record: P 6 W 4 D 2 L 0 Goals F 11 A 3
Blues' away record: P 6 W 4 D 2 L 0 Goals F 10 A 3

Their biggest away test will come at the KC Stadium this Saturday when they face a Hull City managed by former Blues boss Steve Bruce.

The Tigers lie fourth, just two points and two places behind Blues, and are unbeaten at home, where they boast a record almost identical to Blues away from home.

"We'll give them respect," said Shinnie. "They're one of the favourites after coming down from the Premier League, with the amount they've spent. But we can go and play our normal game and be hard to beat."

'Brilliant Robbo's' goal record

One slightly overlooked statistic in Blues' rise to the top has been the sudden emergence of 36-year-old veteran defender Paul Robinson in front of goal.

Heading into Saturday's home game with QPR, the former Watford, West Bromwich Albion, Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United stalwart had not scored in 114 league games for Blues. In fact, he had not scored in any league game in eight years, since scoring for West Bromwich Albion in a 4-0 win at Coventry in November 2007.

Birmingham defender Paul Robinson
Prior to his strike against QPR and his matchwinning header at former club Bolton (above), Robinson's only previous goal for Blues came in the FA Cup against Bristol Rovers two seasons ago

Yet not only did he head Blues' equaliser against QPR, he then nodded in the winner on Tuesday at his old club Bolton, for whom he had failed to find the net in 87 games in his three seasons there.

No player in the Championship has a hotter scoring record over this week's two matches.

Blues team-mate Shinnie insists he will be more impressed, however, by Blues' defensive record since Robinson returned to the team.

"We've only lost one goal in four games since he came in ," he said. "He's brilliant, Robbo. He's got all the experience you need to play in this league."

Birmingham City midfielder Andrew Shinnie was talking to BBC WM's Richard Wilford.