Birmingham 1-1 Town
Saturday, 31st Aug 2013 17:03
Christophe Berra scored his first goal in English football as the Blues drew 1-1 at Birmingham. The Scotland international headed home before the break with Town well on top, but Chris Burke’s deflected 76th minute goal grabbed an undeserved point for the home side.
Keeper Dean Gerken made his league debut for Town with Scott Loach, who took the blame for Leeds’ second goal at Portman Road last week, dropping to the bench.
Paul Anderson, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Christophe Berra made their first Championships starts for Town in place of skipper Carlos Edwards, Elliott Hewitt and Jay Tabb, who were also amongst the subs. Frank Nouble replaced Daryl Murphy up front.
Luke Chambers wore the captain’s armband and was at right-back with Berra on the right of Tommy Smith at the heart of the defence. Anderson was on the right of midfield with Tunnicliffe on the left.
Anthony Wordsworth replaced Frederic Veseli on the bench, while Alan Lee, who signed on a non-contract basis earlier in the week, was amongst those to travel with the squad. For Birmingham, there was no place for ex-Blue Darren Ambrose in the 18.
There were few chances in the opening 10 minutes, home keeper Darren Randolph almost dallied on the ball long enough to be closed down by Nouble on the edge of his six-yard box but just managed to clear, then at the other end Luke Hyam blocked a Lee Novak cross from the right.
Birmingham skipper Paul Robinson picked up the game’s first booking for a foul on Paul Anderson in the 16th minute.
On 18 Cresswell sent in a great ball from the left which David McGoldrick headed over, however, with referee Darren Drysdale feeling the Town striker had pushed defender Dan Burn as it came across.
The Blues were getting on top and in the 23rd minute the lively Anderson sent in a dangerous cross from the left which was cleared. Soon after, the summer signing from Bristol City played in Nouble on the right but a defender’s toe just took the ball away from the Blues frontman.
Novak hit a shot on the turn through to Gerken in the 28th minute after good work from Andy Shinnie on the left, then at the other end Cresswell dug out a cross from the left which Anderson headed well over.
Just as the game reached the half hour mark, the Blues went in front. A freekick was taken quickly on the left, the ball eventually reaching Cresswell, who sent in another excellent cross, which Berra, making his first Championship start for Town, nodded home at the far post.
After Birmingham had lost Neal Eardley to injury, Scott Allan taking over, McGoldrick nodded an Anderson corner straight to Randolph with the Blues in charge and the home side looking little threat.
McGoldrick headed another Anderson corner over in the 41st minute with the Blues continuing to have much the better of it.
Birmingham’s best chance of the half came a minute from the scheduled end when Burke crossed from the right and Peter Lovenkrands diverted the ball well wide from eight yards.
A minute later, Town were close to doubling their lead when McGoldrick hit a superb shot on the turn from the edge of the box, but Randolph was equal to it, getting across to his left to tip it on to the post. Anderson was thwarted as he looked to get on to the rebound.
In injury time, Shinnie headed Burke’s cross from the right over for the home side, then McGoldrick had another chance to net Town’s second, chasing a ball over the top into the area. The Blues striker stabbed the ball goalwards but Randolph stopped it with his toe.
The Blues really ought to have had the game won at the break. Once the match had settled down, Mick McCarthy’s much-changed side had been well on top and had had more than enough chances to add to Berra’s goal with Cresswell’s delivery from the left a particular threat.
In the third minute of the second half McGoldrick hit a low shot from a tight angle which Randolph saved comfortably down to his right.
Birmingham went closer with their first chance of the second half, Novak heading Burke’s right-sided corner goalwards and Gerken pushing the ball from under his bar and to safety somewhat desperately.
Hyam forced Randolph to save well down to his right in the 53rd minute after Tunnicliffe’s cross from the left had been cleared to the edge of the box. Two minutes later, Cresswell hit an effort well over from distance with the Blues continuing to look the better side after the break.
Carlos Edwards replaced Anderson, who had done well, in the 63rd minute, the winger appearing to have suffered a knock.
The excellent McGoldrick shot across the face of goal in the 66th minute, prior to Daryl Murphy replacing Nouble up front.
The Blues continued to threaten and in the 70th minute Cresswell almost made it 2-0 with a shot from the edge of the box, which Randolph – whose saves had kept his team in the match – did superbly to push behind. From the corner, Berra’s goal-bound header was blocked.
Tunnicliffe forced Randolph into another save down to his right in the 75th minute, but moments later and completely against the run of play, Birmingham equalised.
Burke twisted and turned inside a crowded penalty area and struck a shot which caught Cole Skuse and looped beyond Gerken and into the net. The goal was harsh on the Blues who had dominated, but once again without taking their chances when they were on top.
The goal gave the home side a boost, Allan hitting a shot just wide, then Berra did well to get across ahead of the substituted as he cut into the area on the left. With 10 minutes to go, Tabb replaced Tunnicliffe.
Bartley bundled the ball behind ahead of Murphy at the near post, then with four minutes of scheduled time remaining Hyam was booked for a foul.
With just over a minute left, McGoldrick was felled on the edge of the box, inside claimed the Town players, but outside according to Mr Drysdale. McGoldrick’s freekick struck the wall, Cresswell’s subsequent effort was blocked and Randolph was subsequently fouled by Smith.
A late corner came to nothing moments before referee Drysdale blew the whistle on a game Town certainly ought to have won.
The second half was much the same as the first until the home side’s goal and even after a short spell of Birmingham pressure, the Blues were on top in the closing stages.
Mick McCarthy will be pleased with a Championship point away from home, but will be rueing his side’s failure to hold on to a lead for the third time in their five league games this season. It might also be worth noting that if you are interested in a free bet from Bookmakers for one of Town's upcoming fixtures that you could check out bookmakers.co.uk.
Town: Gerken, Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell, Anderson (Edwards 63), Skuse, Hyam, Tunnicliffe (Tabb 80), McGoldrick, Nouble (Murphy 67). Unused: Loach, Hewitt, Wordsworth, Taylor.
Birmingham: Randolph, Eardley (Allan 35), Bartley, Burn, Robinson, Burke, Adeyemi, Spector, Shinnie (Ferguson 58), Novak, Lovenkrands (Green 65). Unused: Doyle, Mullins, Reilly, Elliott, Allan, Green. Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire). Att: 14,328 (Town: 953)
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