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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:20 19th January 2013
By  Adam Tighe

Report: Birmingham City 2 Albion 2

Nikola Zigic’s injury-time header denied Albion a fourth straight win as Gus Poyet’s side were held to a 2-2 draw at a freezing St Andrew's.

Steven Caldwell had given Lee Clark’s Blues the lead after 18 minutes, but a clinical finish by Ashley Barnes and a stunning volley from David Lopez gave Albion the lead, before Zigic’s late equaliser.

It will feel like two points lost to Poyet and his players who were seemingly in control until Zigic’s late header squeezed through the hands of Tomasz Kuszczak.

The fixture also marked the return of Vicente Rodriguez for his first Championship appearance since August as the Seagulls remain unbeaten in 2013.

The game itself looked in jeopardy following the heavy snowfall across England over the previous 24 hours, but following a 9am pitch inspection, the game went ahead.

The freezing conditions made for a slow start but both sides did have early sights of goal, with Rob Hall’s deflected free-kick dropping safely wide, before David’s cross just evaded the left boot of Andrea Orlandi on the penalty spot.

Chris Burke, who decided the fixture at the Amex with his wonder strike earlier in the season, attempted another spectacular effort on goal against the Seagulls - the midfielder turning Wayne Bridge in the box but unable to find the far corner with a curling left footed strike.

However, the home side soon took the lead thanks to captain Caldwell; the centre-back rose above everyone in the Albion box and guided his header past Kuszczak.

Albion were somewhat unfortunate to find themselves behind and almost hit back immediately when Liam Bridcutt saw his curled effort go narrowly past the upright.

But Poyet’s side did not have to wait much longer, as Barnes linked up well with Orlandi, before picking his spot in the bottom left corner after 24 minutes.

David then saw a free-kick deflect over before Callum Reilly fired narrowly over from the edge of the Albion box. And moments later Gordon Greer was just inches away from connecting with Orlandi’s whipped free-kick from the left.

Midfielder Burke once again tried to find the top corner with another curling effort from inside the box on 40 minutes, this time finding the target but also Kuszczak, who beat the effort away.

Then came the moment of sublime brilliance which handed Albion the lead when Bridge’s perfectly weighted cross to the back post was dispatched with venom into the back of Jack Butland’s net by a magnificent volley from David.

Albion almost extended their lead in first-half injury-time. Bridge with another ball into the box which Butland looks destined to collect, but the GB Olympic goalkeeper collided with his defender Paul Robinson. He recovered to force David wide before the Spaniard chipped a cross back into the box, which Craig Mackail-Smith stabbed wide.

Clark shuffled his pack at half-time, adding the gargantuan striker Zigic into the mix and his presence was immediately felt. The Serbian forward flicking the ball on for Hall, only for the striker to be denied by a brave diving punch by Kuszczak.

Poyet’s side then had a succession of half chances to add a third goal; Barnes headed over from close range, Orlandi’s powerful drive deflected behind by Paul Caddis and Dean Hammond saw his diving header deflected wide.

Albion threatened once more with Orlandi’s 25-yard free-kick forcing Butland into a smart diving save before Hammond’s nod down from a corner found Adam El-Abd, but the defender was unable to force the ball home from close range.

With 15 minutes to go Burke tried his luck from distance but dragged his effort wide, and Zigic was also unable to find the target with a header from 18 yards.

But in the dying moments of the game Zigic’s presence was felt. Marlon King’s cross was headed towards goal by the large striker and a seemingly routine save slithered through the hands of Kuszczak.

There was one last roll of the dice as Will Buckley’s teasing cross to the back post was headed down at goal by Hammond but Butland produced an excellent reaction save, and the spoils were shared.

    QUICK FACTS

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