Gardner says his goal and performance were timely boosts as the season-opening clash with Liverpool draws ever close.
"It was nice to get the first full 90 minutes in and I felt good in the game," the midfielder told safc.com. "Getting on the scoresheet was a bonus.
"It's a different style of play to Birmingham but I feel like I'm finding my feet now.
"I don't think I've had the best of pre-seasons so far but I was better last night."