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18:23 21st April 2012
By  Will Jago

Match Report: Albion 1 Birmingham City 1

A late Ashley Barnes strike salvaged a point against Birmingham City, a result which certified the Blues' position in the Championship play-offs.

Nathan Redmond sent the visitors ahead with a crisp strike midway through the second half, but Albion's top scorer hit back thanks to a cool finish with just five minutes remaining.

It was the final home game of the season and the Amex crowd were treated to an extra warm-up occasion when opera singer Donna-Marie Hughes took to the field and produced a stunning singing performance, prompting an impressive atmosphere.

Gus Poyet made four changes following the midweek draw with Watford; Joe Mattock, Peter Brezovan, Vicente Rodriguez and Alan Navarro all returned to the starting line-up, and that resulted in a far more positive start than against the Hornets on Tuesday night.

Indeed, the Seagulls enjoyed the better of the opening blows and Will Buckley had a glorious chance to open the scoring on 12 minutes.

The speedy winger ran on to Vicente's classy lofted pass and one-on-one with Colin Doyle, fired the ball low, but the Blues keeper got down quickly and made a strong enough contact to loop the ball over the bar.

On 20 minutes the Spanish midfielder again provide for the Albion forwards when he played an inviting central free-kick into the box, but no Seagulls player could get a decisive touch the steer the ball past Doyle.

It took until the brink of half-time until the Blues attempted a strike on goal, and it was Redmond who fired a vicious strike narrowly wide of Brezovan's goal.

After the interval Albion again showed the greater attacking threat and Blues hearts would have been in their mouths when Navarro unleashed a 30-yard shot, but Doyle - at full stretch - managed to turn the ball around his right post.

But in the 69th minute came a moment of class from Redmond which unlocked the home defence. Marlon King brought down an enormous Doyle drop-kick on the edge of the Albion box, squared the ball to the Blues midfielder and he arrowed the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Poyet made a swift change following the goal, throwing on Gary Dicker and Craig Noone at the expense of Navarro and Mattock in an attempt to add an extra attacking impetus, and that rewarded the home contingent.

And with a little over five minutes of normal time remaining the home side pulled themselves back into the game through top scorer Barnes.

Inigo Calderon over-lapped down the right and cut the ball back from the by-line for Barnes, who - in acres of space - calmly passed the ball into the bottom right corner to register his 14th goal of the season.

It was the least Albion deserved from an enjoyable encounter, as Poyet's men brought a positive end to the first season at the Amex.


Albion: (4-4-2) Brezovan; Calderon, Dunk, El-Abd, Mattock (Noone 72); Buckley, Bridcutt, Navarro (Dicker 72), Vicente; Barnes, Mackail-Smith. Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Jara Reyes, Vokes.

Birmingham City: (4-4-2) Doyle; Ramage, Davies, Ibanez, Murphy; Burke, Elliott, Mutch, Gomis (Redmond 32); King (Zigic 84), Huseklepp (Townsend 64).Subs not used: Butland (GK), Hughton.

Referee: Nigel Miller

Yellow Cards: Bridcutt, Navarro (Albion); Gomis, Ramage, Elliott(Birmingham City)

Attendance: 20,594 (2,461 Birmingham City)

    Data provided by Press Association


    32,425 paving slabs were used to create the exterior concourse at the American Express Community Stadium.