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MATCH REPORT | TOWN 1 BIRMINGHAM 1

1 April 2017

Freak Ward goal gives Town a point

Grant Ward’s sixth goal of the season gave Town a share of the spoils at Portman Road.

The summer signing from Tottenham levelled for Blues on 71 minutes in freakish fashion, with a cross from the right beating everyone and going into the far corner of the net.

Birmingham opened the scoring just after the break when Jonathan Grounds smashed the ball into the net from close range.

Town needed the brilliance of Bart Bialkowski to earn a point though with the Polish ‘keeper twice denying the visitors in the last five minutes. 

Town made three changes to the side that lost at Cardiff before the international break, Jonathan Douglas coming into the team, with Brett Pitman and Freddie Sears restored to the starting line-up. Tom Lawrence was ruled out with a hip injury. 

Bialkowski gathered well from Maikel Kieftenbeld’s cross, then Ryan Shotton cleared from David McGoldrick after Sears sent a delivery into the box in a tentative start for both teams.

Jordan Spence bravely got his head in the way as Kieftenbeld acrobatically tried to convert a cross eight yards out, Bialkowski then grabbing Craig Gardner’s free-kick after it appeared to skim off Christophe Berra’s head.

McGoldrick couldn’t get enough power on his shot after Sears had fed the ball back into the box from the left, Sears then seeing his shot deflected wide after a clever pass from Jonas Knudsen.

Cole Skuse did well to stop Lukas Jutkiewicz forcing his way to goal, Spence then weaving his way into the Birmingham box but pulling his shot wide.

McGoldrick’s shot cannoned away to safety after Sears set him up 25 yards out, then the Republic of Ireland international robbed Krystian Bielik on the edge of the visitors’ box but Tomasz Kuszczak came to his side’s rescue. 

David Davis was inches away from converting Jutkiewicz’s cross, Spence doing well to spot the danger, then Sears seemed certain to score when McGoldrick’s shot bounced into his path but Kuszczak’s foot diverted the ball wide.

Jutkiewicz’s header from Emilio Nsue’s cross was just over before Town were forced into a change just before the break, Kevin Bru replacing Skuse who received lengthy treatment after a knock to his head.    

Bialkowski denied Jutkiewicz from close range with a comfortable save from Nsue’s cross as the first-half came to an end in stalemate. 

The deadlock was broken three minutes into the second-half, Bialkowski produced an excellent save to keep out Jutkiewicz but Grounds followed up to smash the rebound into the roof of the net.

Pitman did well to get his head on Spence’s cross but couldn’t direct the ball goalwards, then Bialkowski kept Town in the game with a fantastic save from Jutkiewicz after Gardner released him with an excellent pass.

Nsue went close with a left foot drive over the bar, Bru’s free-kick from a good position cleared easily before Town made a second change with Dominic Samuel on for his debut, Pitman making way and seconds later Town were level with Ward whipping over a cross that beat everyone and went into the far corner. 

McGoldrick fizzed a cross in front of Sears as Town went on the front foot, the former Forest striker then sliding a right foot effort wide of the far post after  robbing Paul Robinson. 

Clayton Donaldson replaced David Davis for the closing stages, Stephen Gleeson also on for Kieftenbeld as Birmingham freshened it up and Donaldson was denied by Bialkowski from close range.

The Town ‘keeper then produced an even better save to tip over after McGoldrick had diverted a cross towards his own net in added on time. 

Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Knudsen, Chambers, Berra, Skuse (Bru 44), Ward, Douglas, Sears, Pitman (Samuel 70), McGoldrick. Subs not used: Gerken, Kenlock, Taylor, Diagouraga, Rowe.

Birmingham: Kuszczak, Nsue, Grounds, Robinson, Shotton, Kieftenbeld (Gleeson 86), Tesche, Gardner, Davis (Donaldson 82), Bielik, Jutkiewicz. Subs not used: Legzdins, Adams, Frei, Dacres-Cogley, Keita. Booked: Bielik.
Att: 16,667


 



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