Birmingham City vs Cardiff City. Sky Bet Championship.
St. Andrew's StadiumAttendance19,833.
Saturday 6 August 2016 22:57, UK
Tomasz Kuszczak made a string of fine saves as Birmingham began their Sky Bet Championship campaign with a goalless home draw against Cardiff.
The Blues' home form cost them dearly last season and there was no discernible improvement on the opening day as they were indebted to their former Manchester United goalkeeper.
Cardiff were left to rue a glaring miss from debutant striker Frederic Gounongbe, who contrived to shoot over with the goal at his mercy before half-time.
The result was perhaps hardly a surprise, as there have only been seven goals in the past eight meetings between these two sides.
Birmingham applied most of the early pressure but Cardiff almost went ahead in the 11th minute.
A swirling free-kick from the left by Peter Whittingham was met by Lex Immers with a stunning header only for Kuszczak to make a fine flying save to his right.
Cardiff displayed an eagerness to take command and Bruno Manga had a fine opportunity from close range only for the big central defender to nudge the ball weakly into the hands of Kuszczak from close range.
It was an untiday game at times although Diego Fabbrini attempted to bring a little individual skill to the proceedings only to waste his good work by some indifferent finishing.
His potential danger, however, had been noted by the Cardiff defenders who resorted to some heavy tackles to cut short any real threat.
Cardiff's attacking shortcomings of last season were evident with Gounongbe getting little support up front and when Anthony Pilkington got a good sight on goal he weakly lobbed the ball into the hands of Kuszczak.
The Welsh club were finding routes to goal with the industrious Whittingham firing in a 25-yard drive which required all the expertise of Kuszczak to keep out.
Birmingham almost stole ahead when a Michael Morrison header needed Manga to make a goal-line clearance, before Gounongbe's miss of the match on 34 minutes.
Declan John, with great determination, produced a low cross from the left only for Gounongbe, with an open goal at his mercy, to scoop the ball over the crossbar.
Birmingham were in a more positive mood in the second half with David Cotterill shooting just wide and Fabbrini forcing Cardiff's captain, David Marshall, to tip a powerful effort over the crossbar.
Cardiff came close to breaking the stalemate when Immers slammed a long-range effort against Birmingham's crossbar.
In an attempt to inject more finishing power, Birmingham sent on teenagers Jack Storer and Reece Brown. Within two minutes they combined only for Storer to fail to get in a clean shot from close range as Marshall made an easy save.