Premier League - Wigan hold Birmingham

Sat, 25 Sep 16:50:00 2010

Birmingham and Wigan played out a goalless stalemate at St. Andrew's, in a game of few clear-cut chances, which also saw Craig Gardner shown a straight red card for the home side late on.

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Highlights: Birmingham 0-0 Wigan

Liam Ridgewell and Roger Johnson came closest for the home side with headers in each half, as Wigan defended well to keep the home side at bay.

Charles N'Zogbia was a threat all afternoon as Wigan exerted several periods of sustained pressure on Ben Foster's goal, but poor finishing and a lack of genuine chances meant neither side deserved victory.

Birmingham were slow to get started, with the Blues' midfield trio of Barry Ferguson, Lee Bowyer and Gardner unable to stamp their authority on the game.

As a result, the visitors capitalised numerous times on Birmingham's inability to retain the ball, particularly throughout the first 20 minutes, with N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega running riot.

Wigan should have scored in that period as Rodallega spurned two gilt-edged chances to put them ahead. One of their best chances of the opening 45 minutes fell to N'Zogbia, who shot well from inside the box at the end of a crisp counter attack, only for his powerful, albeit central, shot to be palmed away for a corner by Foster.

But Birmingham weathered the storm and created a few chances of their own as the half went on.

Alexander Hleb, whose class shone through despite looking short of match fitness, was central to many of the opportunities that the home side created.

His ball to Sebastian Larsson resulted in the Swede whipping in a teasing ball to the far post, but Cameron Jerome was unable to keep his header on target under pressure from Steve Gohouri at the far post.

In what was a closely-fought game, tempers frayed after half an hour when the flailing leading arm of Rodallega caught Birmingham's Johnson in the face. Johnson took exception to the foul, resulting in a skirmish involving most of the players, which referee Mark Clattenburg did well to diffuse after Bowyer needlessly got involved.

The incident seemed to fire Birmingham up, who finished the first half with a flourish. Larsson, whose delivery from set pieces was first class all day, put in a wicked ball in right-footed from the left, but Johnson could not cap an eventful half for him with a goal as the ball sailed inches wide. Ali Al Habsi was stranded.

It was more of the same in a tit-for-tat second half between two evenly-matched sides.

The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock fell to Ridgewell in the 55th minute. Larsson again delivered from the free kick on the left wing and Ridgewell rose to the ball, but glanced his header wide under no pressure whatsoever.

Johnson, who was just behind Ridgewell was in the perfect position to head in had his team-mate not taken the chance away from him.

The introduction of Franco Di Santo on the hour revitalised Wigan, whose attacks had become fewer and farther between. Stephen Carr began to get to grips with N'Zogbia, Wigan's best player, with Wigan shifting the focus their attacks to the central Di Santo.

But Di Santo had to be withdrawn late on Craig Gardner's lunge on the Argentine not only resulted in a red card for the Birmingham midfielder, but injury to Di Santo.

Gardner's dismissal was for an aggressive two-footed lunge, which saw both feet off the ground and over the ball, leaving referee Clattenberg with no choice but to show the red.

N'Zogbia, who received a somewhat hostile reaction by the St. Andrew's fans following the collapse of his move to Birmingham earlier this year, sent a free-kick just over the bar in the 82nd minute in a half where Wigan failed to create any clear chances.

Rodallega saw a couple of half chances come to nothing as, ultimately, both sides seemed happy with the point.

Michael Da Silva / Eurosport

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