February 19, 2013
Stalemate at St Andrew's
Relegation rivals Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday could not be separated at St Andrew's as both sides were forced to settle for a point in their battles against the drop from the npower Championship.
Ultimately, a game which could have gone either way hinged on two moments in either half.
Blues goalkeeper Jack Butland pulled off a contender for save of the season in the 11th minute as he incredibly clawed out a header from Owls centre-back Miguel Llera which appeared to have been beyond him.
Just as amazingly, Blues somehow failed to take lead midway through the second half.
An unmarked Nikola Zigic - included in boss Lee Clark's XI having been dropped for Saturday's 4-0 defeat to Watford following his lacklustre efforts in training - failed to anticipate Chris Burke's cross and diverted the ball wide from merely four yards.
The stalemate, Birmingham's first clean in 20 games in all competitions, keeps both sides just above the relegation zone, with a resurgent Wednesday now having tasted defeat just once in 11 league matches.
Zigic's name was greeted with a cheer by the majority of the 15,738 present when read out pre-match by the stadium announcer.
Those in attendance watched both sides send efforts off target inside the opening exchanges - Leroy Lita, who was on loan at Blues earlier this season, for the visitors and both Burke and Marlon King for the home side.
Fit-again King, one of five changes made by Clark, enjoyed a great chance to open the scoring with just seven minutes gone but his attempted lob was collected by Chris Kirkland, who saved from Wade Elliott's long-range effort shortly after.
But it was opposite number Butland who soon produced the stunning stop of the game to somehow keep out Llera's header from Danny Pugh's corner.
Zigic failed to connect with a great headed chance from Elliott's free-kick just before the half-hour mark before the big man returned the favour in setting up Elliott but he saw his half-volley blocked.
Clark and Owls counterpart Dave Jones would have seen the opportunity for three crucial points within their grasp at the break and the second half started with plenty of gusto, although neither side enjoyed a real chance of note until the 68th minute.
Burke sent in an inswinging cross-come-shot from the right and an unmarked Zigic somehow directed it off target from a matter of yards.
The chance further roused Blues, who had started to dominate, and King saw a shot saved by Kirkland.
Zigic again failed to hit the target as he headed wide the lively Jonathan Spector's right-wing cross.
At the other end, Butland collected a speculative effort from substitute Jermaine Johnson before Blues left-back Mitch Hancox nipped in to deny Michail Antonio a certain tap-in.
Owls substitute Gary Madine then sent Antonio's free-kick wide from just yards out when he really should have done better, with both sides eventually taking a point.
|Birmingham City||Sheffield Wednesday|
|Birmingham City||Sheffield Wednesday|
|1 Jack Butland||1 Chris Kirkland|
|4 Steven Caldwell||5 Martin Taylor|
|6 Curtis Davies||2 Lewis Buxton|
|23 Jonathan Spector||32 Miguel Angel Llera|
|28 Paul Caddis||25 David Prutton|
|27 Mitch Hancox||19 Danny Pugh|
|15 Wade Elliott||28 Giles Coke|
|7 Chris Burke||7 Michail Antonio|
|33 Callum Reilly||15 Jeremy Helan|
|9 Marlon King||24 Leroy Lita|
|19 Nikola Zigic||22 Connor Wickham|
|13 Colin Doyle||Stephen Bywater 43|
|5 Pablo Ibañez||Joe Mattock 14|
|8 Hayden Mullins||Jermaine Johnson 11|
|22 Nathan Redmond||Jose Vitor Moreira Semedo 6|
|11 Peter Lovenkrands||Kieran Lee 20|
|20 Wesley Thomas||Rhys McCabe 16|
|29 Robert Hall||Gary Madine 9|
|Peter Lovenkrands for Marlon King (83)||Jermaine Johnson for Connor Wickham (67)|
|Gary Madine for Leroy Lita (78)|
|Rhys McCabe for Giles Coke (80)|
|Danny Pugh (13)|
|Michail Antonio (59)|
|Miguel Angel Llera (87)|
|Rhys McCabe (88)|
|· Squads: Birmingham City | Sheffield Wednesday|