|Birmingham City 2 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 29th September 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Birmingham City 2-2 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 29th Sep 2018 17:22
Town still wait for their first win of the season after two second-half Lukas Jutkiewicz goals denied them victory over Birmingham at St Andrew’s having been two goals in front via Jon Nolan and Matthew Pennington at half-time, the game ending 2-2. Nolan netted on 26 and Pennington - who was sent off for a second yellow card late on - doubled the lead in the 41st minute as the Blues looked set to claim three points under Paul Hurst for the first time but Jutkiewicz struck on 48 and 68 to dash their hopes.
Town, wearing their all orange second strip, fielded an unchanged XI for the first time this season, while Ellis Harrison dropped out of the 18 due to injury and Andre Dozzell was on the bench for the first time since the opening day game against Blackburn.
The Blues, watched by former assistant manager Terry Connor and England U21s coach Aidy Boothroyd from the directors’ box, found themselves under pressure from the off and the home side went close to going in front in the fourth minute.
Following a Jota corner, Gerken first saved from Lukas Jutkiewicz, then reacted quickly to crowd out Che Adams’s follow-up.
The ball subsequently fell to Gary Gardner on the edge of the area from where he curled a shot past Gerken’s right hand but off the outside of the post.
After a frantic first few minutes Town gradually began to get on the ball and on 10 Grant Ward struck their first shot, albeit a weak effort from distance which gave Lee Camp in the Birmingham goal little trouble.
On 15 Nolan stabbed the ball into the path of Jonas Knudsen on the left and the Danish international crossed deep to Gwion Edwards, who shot over from a very tight angle wide of the back post.
Birmingham continued to have most of the ball, although without a creating another chance, but on 26 the Blues went in front.
Pennington played a ball down the right for Kayden Jackson to chase and the former Accrington man cut in and laid a pass back to Nolan, who smashed his first Town goal into the top corner from just inside the box.
Town began to look more confident on the ball having gone ahead before a stop-start period in the game due to head injuries. Following one of those stoppages in the 35th minute, a Harlee Dean freekick from deep was nodded wide by Jutkiewicz.
Birmingham thought they’d equalised in the 39th minute when Haverhill-born Michael Morrison nodded a looping header back and over Gerken from Jota’s left-wing cross but somehow Knudsen managed to hook it off the line.
And two minutes later, the Blues doubled their lead. Chalobah won a corner on the left and Ward whipped over a low ball which the unmarked Pennington turned home from six yards to claim his first goal for Town.
Birmingham were unable to seriously threaten again in the remaining minutes and the half-time whistle drew boos from a home crowd still to see their team win this season.
Conversely the Town players left the field to applause from their fans having ended a half with a two-goal advantage for the first time under manager Hurst.
Having been fortunate not to go behind in the early stages, particularly when Gardner hit the post, the Blues gradually got themselves more into the game, although the Midlanders had continued to look the more dangerous team prior to Nolan’s opening goal.
Birmingham would have been on terms - probably deservedly - but for Knudsen’s brilliant off-the-line clearance, but in the game’s next passage of play Pennington made the most of some lax Birmingham set-piece defending to make it 2-0.
The home side swapped Gardner for Maikel Kieftenbeld ahead of the second half and two minutes after the restart the Blues went close to a third.
After Pennington had been fouled five yards outside the area, Nolan curled a freekick just wide of Camp’s left post.
But a minute later the home side pulled a goal back. Jutkiewicz was played in on goal by Jota and slipped the ball to the right of the advancing Gerken.
The goal livened up the previously sullen home crowd as their side took the game to Town looking for an equaliser.
On 52 Pennington was booked for a cynical foul on Jacques Maghoma after Nsiala had been caught in possession inside his own half.
Five minutes later, Town went close. Chalobah was found by Pennington as he broke forward and crossed to Ward. The former Spurs chested the ball down past his man but his shot wasn’t powerful enough to test Camp.
Despite the blow of conceding the early goal, the Blues were starting to look the more threatening side and on 62 Edwards did well to get past Kristian Pedersen on the right but sent his low cross behind Nolan and a number of other team-mates.
But almost immediately Birmingham, who replaced Charlie Lakin for Connor Mahoney in the 65th minute, twice went close.
First Gerken did well to get a strong arm to palm Adams’s shot from the edge of the box wide, then from the corner Jutkiewicz’s looping header bounced off the top of the bar and over.
However, the home side didn’t have to wait too much longer for an equaliser. Gerken’s punch from a 68th minute freekick on the right flew straight up in the air, Dean’s header was blocked on the line, Chalobah stopped a subsequent effort with his chest but Jutkiewicz eventually found a gap and smashed in the leveller.
Match Gallery: 6 photos
Town found themselves under heavy pressure following the second Birmingham goal, Mahoney seeing a shot from a tight angle on the right deflected behind. On 73 Jota curled a shot over.
The Blues swapped Ward for Freddie Sears in the 81st minute, the former West Ham man taking up a role behind Jackson with Nolan switching to wide on the left.
Mahoney wasn’t too far from a winning goal in the 85th minute with a low shot from the right of the box which flew just past Gerken’s right post.
A minute later, skipper Luke Chambers nodded down a freekick from deep but Sears just couldn’t reach it.
Then on 87 the Blues had a golden chance to reclaim the lead. Jackson, who had enjoyed his best game since joining Town, escaped down the left and cut across to Sears, however, the ball flew just behind the striker and it was cleared from inside the six-yard box.
With two minutes remaining the Blues were reduced to 10 men for the third time this season. This time Pennington was the man to see red following his second yellow card for a foul on Maghoma.
Immediately, Edwards was sacrificed for Janoi Donacien as Town looked to see out the final few minutes for a point.
The Blues found themselves under significant pressure during injury time and Birmimgham nearly won it when Jutkiewicz was found in space at the far post but Gerken reacted quickly to close him down and block. Moments later, the whistle ended an entertaining topsy-turvy affair.
Town will be kicking themselves that they are still waiting for their first win of the season having been two goals in front.
The timing of Birmingham’s first goal gave them impetus and momentum at the start of the second half and despite Town having the occasional moment of their own going forward, the potential for second home goal was always there.
The Blues, who climb a place to 22nd in the table, defended staunchly to hang on to their point in the closing stages, particularly after going down to 10 men, and might even have grabbed a third goal on the break.
Going into the match a first away draw of the season wouldn’t have been viewed as a bad result.
However, in the context of having been 2-0 up at half-time it’s major chance to claim a first victory missed at the 10th time of asking in the league and with two very tough fixtures - Middlesbrough at home on Tuesday which Pennington will miss and Swansea away on Saturday - in the next week.
Town: Gerken, Pennington, Nsiala, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Skuse, Chalobah, Edwards (Donacien 88), Nolan, Ward (Sears 81), Jackson. Unused: Bialkowski, Graham, Downes, Dozzell, Edun.
Birmingham: Camp, Pedersen, Morrison (c), Dean, Colin, Lakin (Mahoney 64), G Gardner (Kieftenbeld 46), Jota, Maghoma, Jutkiewicz, Adams. Unused: Trueman, Roberts, Harding, Solomon-Otabor, Bogle. Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire). Att: 21,612 (Town 1,096).
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