Wayne Rooney accused some of his substitutes of falling short after Birmingham surrendered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 against high-flying Ipswich at St. Andrew’s.
Rooney picked up his first point since becoming City manager but was denied his first win after substitute Marcus Harness’ late brace extended Ipswich’s unbeaten league run to 11 games.
Jay Stansfield’s fifth goal of the season gave City a 13th-minute lead and it was followed by a Cameron Burgess own goal after 51 minutes.
Ipswich were a different proposition after the break though and substitute Harness replied in the 79th and 89th minutes.
Ipswich made four substitutions in the 72nd minute and three of them combined for Harness’s first goal.
“Their subs made the difference and I felt ours didn’t,” said Rooney.
“Some of the lads who came on didn’t do enough. The lads worked extremely hard to put us in the position we were in, and when you’re coming off the bench you need to be better than a few of them were.
“When you make changes and bring players into the game, you have to pick that (intensity) up, especially as Ipswich were starting to get a bit of control, so we needed them to give us that energy to continue what we were doing.
“I just felt there were a couple of players who didn’t do that for us. That’s something for us to improve on.”
Rooney admitted City are trying to improve players’ fitness so they can maintain their intensity for longer.
“The way I want them to play is different – it’s more front-footed and it takes a lot more energy to do that,” he said.
“We’re constantly trying to build that up so they can get to a level where they can do it for 90 minutes.
“But as we started tiring, Ipswich started to get control and pushed us back and we couldn’t hold them.
“Ideally I want to be making changes for tactical reasons, not necessarily for physical reasons.”
Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna praised the character of his team and substitutes after coming back from two goals down to retrieve something from a game for the third time this season.
“I was really pleased and proud of the players and for the supporters as well,” said McKenna.
“The biggest credit due was our reaction to their second goal because that was the one that could have really deflated the group. But we managed to pick straight up and keep going how we were.
“We’ve seen it before with this group and we’ve built that resilience over time to keep playing our football, and trust if we do the right things we can always score.”
In contrast to Rooney’s view on his substitutions, McKenna was full of praise for his replacements, who changed the game.
“Credit to all the subs who came on – the boys all knew what slots they were going to come into and they all had a really good impact,” he said.
“Marcus scored twice to back up his goal from last week and that was great for the spirit in the group.
“It was also great for the understanding that with the challenge we face this year, it’s going to take the whole squad.”