Rovers comeback earns point
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Blackburn came from two goals behind to earn a 3-3 draw against Birmingham.Blackburn Rovers showed their new spirit by coming from two goals behind to earn a thrilling 3-3 draw against Birmingham at Ewood Park.
The hosts had taken the lead through Matt Jansen, but goals from Darren Anderton, Robbie Savage and old-boy David Dunn sent them in at half-time with a two-goal deficit.
The arrival of David Thompson from the substitutes' bench galvanised Rovers, however, and Steven Reid and Paul Gallagher claimed a share of the points.
The game had started with Rovers on top, but after Jansen's fourth minute strike, it was Birmingham who took control - with Mario Melchiot underlining just why he was recalled to the Dutch squad.
It had all looked so different in the opening stages, with ex-Rovers duo Damien Johnson and Dunn failing to gain a foothold in the game, and Savage watching pass after pass go astray.
As Blues' lack of confidence was illustrated there was little surprise that Blackburn took the lead just four minutes in.
Tugay played a glorious ball out wide for Reid, who showed Julian Gray a clean pair of heels and cut cleverly across.
Paul Dickov showed great awareness to step over allowing the recalled Jansen to step onto the ball and lash a shot that swerved inexorably past Maik Taylor into the back of the net.
Birmingham's problems up front this season suggested that it was going to be a long afternoon for Steve Bruce, but his team showed admirable fight, and managed to claw things level against the run of play just 12 minutes later.
It was Anderton that grabbed the goal, showing wonderful close control to shift the ball past the Rovers defence and poke past Brad Friedel after Dunn's slightly heavy touch had dropped nicely for the former Spurs man.
Blackburn's fragile confidence visibly dropped away and Birmingham's quality began to shine through.
Indeed, Johnson drew a hesitant parry wide from Friedel soon afterwards and Savage, with his first decent touch of the game, gave the visitors the lead.
The Wales international was on hand to slot neatly home from six yards, after Melchiot had blasted past the defence with pace and seen his cross dealt with poorly by Reid.
With half time looming, Birmingham grabbed a third - and it was a carbon copy of the goal they had conceded 40 minutes earlier.
Melchiot's pace was again the key, the former Chelsea man taking advantage of naïve defending by Jay McEvilly to escape down the right, cut back across for Morrison to step over and Dunn to take a touch before slotting home past the side that had discarded him for his 'playboy' lifestyle.
The arrival of Paul Gallagher after the break gave Rovers impetus - as proved when a clearly offside Barry Ferguson was not flagged after Gallagher's fine ball.
But it was another substitute, the brilliant David Thompson that turned the game back in Blackburn's favour.
The midfielder, coming back from injury, took just seconds to lay on the second goal, turning the ball on quickly for Reid, who raced through delayed his shot, but watched his effort flick off of the sliding Matthew Upson and spin over Taylor into the top corner.
Birmingham looked shell-shocked, and it took just minutes for the hosts to level.
It was a hopeful long ball that unlocked the defence, Dickov's tenacity and a slice of luck pushing the ball past Upson and past Taylor for Gallagher to pounce onto and lash home into the empty net.
Suddenly it was Blues that were floundering, and first a Thompson volley then Reid's low 25-yard effort forced Taylor into saves.
Birmingham regrouped, despite losing a clearly half-fit Morrison, and Savage was desperately unlucky when his acrobatic overhead beat Friedel but cannoned off the face of a post to the midfielder's dismay.
The last ten minutes saw both sides desperately battle for a winner - mindful that poor starts to the season had left both sides at the wrong end of the table - and Taylor was forced into a fine save to deny Dickov a late winner.
It will feel like a victory to Rovers, but the truth of the matter is that they remain at the foot of the Premiership, whilst Birmingham are only three points better off in 14th spot.Click here for Blackburn v Bolton player ratings.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||3|
|10||Shots on Target||4|
|3||Shots off Target||5|