COVENTRY CITY 1-1 BIRMINGHAM CITY SAT MARCH 10THTH AT Ricoh Arena
City: Murphy, Keogh, Cranie, Clarke, Cameron, Cranie, Norwood, Clingan, McSheffrey, Baker (Thomas 81), Nimely, McDonald (Platt 61). SNU Dunn, Christie, Deegan
Birmingham; Myhill, Caldwell, Ramage, Burke, N.Daw (Mutch 72 sent off 83), King (Elliott 90), Huseklepp (Zigic 61), Townsend, Fahey, Spector, Davies. SNU Doyle, Ibanez
HT CCFC 0-0 BCFC FT CCFC 1-1 BCFC. NOTS (Number Of Tickets Sold) 22,240
Referee N.Swarbrick. Assts S. Knapp and G. Mauge.
Booked Nimely Sent Off Mutch 83
Goals Gary McSheffrey 69, Marlon King 71,
Man Of The Match Martin Cranie and Gary McSheffrey shared the votes with nominations for Keogh, Baker, Norwood, McDonald
CITY SUPPORT: If you take out the 6,000 Birmingham, the 2,000 cubs and scouts and the 1,000 Tickets For Schools then there was only 13,000 City supporters including supporters from South Wales amongst other places in the ground. Plenty of support and encouragement for the team though.
Andy Thorn made two changes. Sammy Clingan and Cody McDonald both started with Gary Deegan and Clive Platt dropped to the bench.
Coventry City yet again were left to question if a home point will be enough to help them in their fight to stay in the Championship.
With it emerging that the kick off had been moved in order to save police costs rather than the insistence of the police, the biggest home crowd of the season took their places in the Ricoh Arena on a grey Saturday lunchtime.
They witnessed a first half with plenty of huff and puff but neither keeper being really tested.
As expected, Marlon King was booed every time he touched the ball and he was well marked by Richard Keogh who worked well in defence alongside the capable Martin Cranie and Nathan Cameron.
Birmingham, who had not won in their last three matches, won three corners early on before McSheffrey sent a free kick just over from twenty yards in the 12th minute.
City’s midfield were in a battle with the Blues midfield in the first half. Birmingham played their passes short whilst Norwood and Clingan opted for the long ball to the likes of Carl Baker who battled well.
Now Chris Hughton, a man I have a lot of time for, had signed before his club were placed under a transfer embargo Eric Huseklapp or Eric The Viking as he was known at Portsmouth and in the 32nd minute, he really should have opened the scoring when he fired wide when through on goal.
And just before the break, Andros Townsend, who had played for Ipswich against City earlier this season, had a shot deflected for a corner.
With both sets of fans singing their club songs after we had some community singing in the first half, the second half was far more entertaining.
Alex Nimely, who was not allowed much freedom by the visiting defence, picked up a caution before Burke drew a 58th minute save out of Joe Murphy. City went straight up the other end through Baker who sent over a cross. Cody McDonald got his head in but received a kick in the head from Curtis Davies, who took one look at Cody on the ground and immediately summoned City’s Physio Michael McBride, who will be running his sixth London Marathon this month, on to treat the flow of blood coming from over McDonald’s left eye.
Cody was unable to continue so Clive Platt was sent on and Hughton went for a change bringing on the giant that is Nikola Zigic.
Both sides should have scored with Norwood firing at Myhill and Zigic sending a free header wide but in the 69th minute, the City support were going mad when a Baker cross from the right was met by Gary McSheffrey who sent a looping header into the CT Stand net.
McSheffrey celebrated his goal against his former club and two minutes later, Marlon King was doing exactly the same when Jordan Clarke and then Richard Keogh let the City old boy go and King smacked the ball from a cross past Murphy before celebrating with the travelling fans.
Birmingham sent on Jordan Mutch just before Gary McSheffrey chipped inches over. Ramage then had to head a Baker cross knocked on by Platt across his own goal for a corner and this was followed by the City support in the CT Stand appealing for a penalty when Jonathan Spector had his hands all over Clive Platt.
Baker pulled with what was either cramp or a leg injury and Conor Thomas was sent on in the 81st minute.
Marlon King missed with a header at the other but just before seven minutes of stoppage time was announced, what looked like an elbow on Alex Nimely saw Jordan Mutch shown a red card and Birmingham in their home blue kit, were down to ten men.
Whilst Mutch was being dismissed, King had told his bench that he wanted to come off and was close to the Main Stand when his number was held up by the fourth official and he left to boos and abuse from the City fans.
One could argue that a draw was a fair result but Birmingham were today nowhere near the best I have ever seen them play and had the Sky Blues been a bit more decisive in front of goal then the win City got last time Birmingham visited could have been attained.