Blues hold on for point
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Birmingham held on to seal a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion at St Andrews.
West Brom came from behind and will be left thinking what could have been as they drew 1-1 with Birmingham in the archetypal six-pointer at St Andrews.
The home side dominated the opening half hour, but had nothing to show for their efforts - after which point West Brom took control.
At the start of the second period, it was Birmingham who actually took the lead thanks to a Mikael Forssell penalty - but that was against the run of play.
West Brom got their just rewards after substitute Nathan Ellington fired home with 20 minutes left and he could have added another two - including a one-on-one when he should have found the net in the final minute.
David Dunn looked highly impressive early on and was running the game from his left flank role.
He won a free kick in a dangerous position after just two minutes, but failed to trouble Tomasz Kuszczak with the resulting effort.
Dunn almost broke the deadlock just moments later when Emile Heskey did well to take the ball down and lay it off - but the England midfielder put his left foot drive narrowly wide.
Birmingham were very bright in the opening stages and Heskey was giving The Baggies defence a tough time - his header on the half hour mark was unlucky to loop wide.
West Brom had barely been in the Birmingham box to this point, but suddenly they could and should have taken the lead as they created two gilt-edged chances.
The first came as Jonathan Greening got the better of Stan Lazaridis - he broke into the area before pulling it back for the unmarked Diomansy Kamara - but somehow the Senegalese forward sliced wide from just five yards with the empty net beckoning.
Kamara again broke clear just a minute later but this time a good challenge from Martin Taylor put him off as he blasted wide.
Then the African almost made amends for his earlier miss as Ronnie Wallwork's header found him in the area, Kamara intelligently flicked the ball around the corner into the path of Kevin Campbell - but the Baggies skipper fired against the post from six yards with Maik Taylor beaten and then Kozak saw his follow-up cleared off the line.
Both sides started the second half up for a battle, but the luck was with Birmingham as they opened the deadlock thanks to a penalty just four minutes in.
Forssell was tussling with Curtis Davies in the area and foul could easily have been given against the Finn, but he battled on and lured the defended into a crude challenge and referee Phil Dowd was in no doubt and awarded the penalty.
The former Chelsea man dusted himself down and dispatched the spot-kick with relative ease.
West Brom were now forced to push on and Taylor was immediately called upon to tip over a Junichi Inamoto drive after good work from Jan Kozak down the right.
Heskey continued to cause problems and he pulled a cross back from the right, which only just eluded Forssell - when any sort of touch would have seen a goal.
Bryan Robson's men needed something extra in the final third and so he brought on Kanu and Ellington, with Inamoto and Campbell making way.
Within a minute of the double change - it paid dividends as the two subs combined to bring The Baggies level.
Blues skipper Mario Melchiot will shoulder some of the responsibility for his mistimed clearance, Ellington challenged him as the ball arrived back down to earth and Kamara picked up on the loose play - his excellent ball in turn fed Kanu.
The Nigerian could have easily pulled the trigger himself, but instead he laid the ball back into the path of Ellington who fired home left footed.
Steve Bruce reacted with his own change as the lively DJ Campbell was introduced, but it did not have the same effect on the game as West Brom now looked the most likely to take the win.
Ellington nearly grabbed his second when a wicked dipping shot almost deceived Taylor as it bounced in front of him, but the Northern Irish shot-stopper managed to just palm it over.
The Duke had another great chance just seconds later as Taylor's tipped Kozak's long-range effort wide - but from an acute angle he could only fire back across goal.
Birmingham were now like a boxer on the ropes in the final round as they battled to hang on and Ellington should have delivered a knock-out blow in the last-minute.
He beat the offside trap to latch onto a long ball from midfield - he had time to head the ball down, but he rifled his shot against the bar from just 12 yards and Birmingham managed to scramble the ball clear.
Both sides will gladly take the point and while Steve Bruce will be annoyed to have thrown away the lead, he will be mightily relieved to stay within three points of West Brom - who could and should have won the game in the last ten minutes.
The draw means the relegation fight remains as a close as ever, with third from bottom Birmingham still three points adrift of West Brom - but with a game in hand.
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|Birmingham City||Team Name||West Bromwich Albion|
|1||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||4|