Birmingham 0-0 Brentford: Goalless at St Andrew's
Both sides forced to settle for a point at St Andrew's.
Last Updated: 29/12/18 6:45pm
Improving Birmingham suffered a dip in form and had to be content with a point from a goalless home draw against a battling Brentford.
The result, on past performances in the Sky Bet Championship, was hardly a surprise considering Birmingham had failed to beat Brentford in their previous four encounters.
It was a game in which each side cancelled each other out although Brentford finished with four yellow cards in a highly-competitive game.
Brentford, now unbeaten in their last three games, certainly belied their lowly position with an attacking policy which kept Birmingham under considerable early pressure and they were well worth their point.
A driving force for the Bees was their skipper Romaine Sawyers, who led by example with his enthusiastic driving play.
Rico Henry and Neal Maupay both performed well in a young side which displayed plenty of potential.
As a result Birmingham, who had three former Brentford players in their side, found themselves on the back foot and struggling to mount any serious attacks, which was out of character with recent performances.
Their only first-half attempt on Brentford's goal came from Jota. The former Bees winger scurried into the middle before unleashing a hopeful long-range effort which was easily dealt with by Danny Bentley.
This incident appeared to inspire Birmingham. Having survived the initial 25-minute blitz, the Blues began to emerge as a more serious attacking unit and Brentford's rearguard began to look a little shaky.
Following a flat first half the second was more lively, with Bentley being forced to make a smart save diving to his right to keep out an effort from Maikel Kieftenbeld as Birmingham stepped up the pace in an attempt to take control.
In the general frustration the game became a little untidy. Maupay was involved in three incidents and on the third occasion the Frenchman was booked.
As a precaution he was then substituted by manager Thomas Frank and replaced by Said Benrahma.
Referee Peter Bankes had a difficult game attempting to keep control in a hectic match when there were frequent stoppages.
Birmingham appeared to thrive in the atmosphere but Brentford, to their credit, battled bravely to stay in contention, with Julian Jeanvier and Ezri Konsa their defensive stalwarts in the closing stages.
Garry Monk: "Diving is in [Maupay's] make-up. There is no denying that. It is not really my concern if I am honest. He does it in every game and he had one of our players sent off for exactly that reason last season.
"Everyone in football knows he does it but he doesn't get punished. But it was obvious by the way they took him off the pitch that he was going to get into trouble."
Thomas Frank: "I would say in general I think the match official needed to protect the key players in the game. You should see Neal's back. There are scratches all the way down on his back.
"I know that is part of the game. You have to handle that. Defenders know all the tricks in the book. He is clever as well. I understand what happens but if you are smashed and hit every single game for 90 minutes there comes a time when all of us would be annoyed over those situations. With the booking, when they were all over him, I thought it was best to take him off."