Premier League - Ten-man Blues hold Wolves

Sun, 01 May 13:55:00 2011

Birmingham City held Wolverhampton Wanderers to a 1-1 Premier League draw at St Andrew’s despite being a man down for over an hour of a dire Midlands relegation derby.

Match Highlights:

What little action there was came in the first half as Ben Foster gave away an early penalty, scored by Steven Fletcher; Blues levelled when Sebastian Larsson latched on to a Michael Mancienne error before Craig Gardner was shown a second yellow card after a blatant dive.

The rest of the match was a toil that befitted their league positions, with the point enough for Birmingham to stay four points clear of the relegation zone, while Wolves stay second bottom and a point shy of safety with three games remaining.

Both sides have impressive records against the biggest sides but it is their poor form against similar sides that has resulted in their respective predicaments.

And the first half played to form as both teams struggled to create a passing rhythm in a disjointed, niggly and bad-tempered 45 minutes of football, if the term ‘football’ can be used in such a context.

In keeping with the lack of quality, both goals were the result of terrible mistakes.

On seven minutes Fletcher put Wolves ahead with a cool low finish from the spot after a dreadful clearance from Blues keeper Foster went straight to Matt Jarvis: his through-ball released Stephen Ward, who was taken out by Foster’s desperate dive.

The hosts levelled in even more comic circumstances, Foster semi-redeeming himself as he turned provider with a simple punt upfield: Mancienne, apparently blinded by the bright sunlight, under-hit his header back to Wayne Hennessey, the ball dropping short and Larsson gleefully sliding past the stranded Wolves keeper.

In between Larsson had hit the bar with a superb free-kick that resulted from a dreadful challenge by Richard Stearman on Gardner that somehow saw the Wolves defender escape a booking: most expected a red card and Birmingham were furious at the let off.

Their sense of injustice was inflamed further when, not long after their leveller, the hosts were reduced to 10 men when Gardner was shown a second yellow card. However, they can have no complaints as it was rightly shown in response to a clear and unnecessary dive from the former England U21 midfielder after Jody Craddock’s challenge fell short of his outstretched leg.

All the aforementioned incidents provoked handbag-brandishing set-tos and, otherwise, there was little to write home about.

If the first half was a dirge, the second was a calamity of sorts as neither side created anything of note until the 86th minute.

The passing was poor, tackles more often late than not, and neither keeper was remotely tested - for much of the half the only shot on target was a weak Jamie O’Hara effort straight at Foster.

The final 20 minutes saw Wolves apply some aerial pressure while Blues sat deeper, presumably happy to hold on to a point that would keep them clear of the drop zone.

Eventually a chance came, with Stephen Hunt’s dangerous cross half-cleared into the path of Karl Henry. His low drive wreaked havoc in the box but Adam Hammill could only blast well over.

That was it though as the final seven minutes including stoppage time reverted to the slug-fest of the earlier part of the half, both sides seemingly content to play out a bore draw.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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