Novak’s thumper not enough for Blues

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December 4, 2013 by Shane Ireland

Birmingham City 1 – 1 Doncaster Rovers

Written by: Shane Ireland (Proud to be a Bluenose)

Lee Novak’s first half strike wasn’t enough for Blues as a draw was the end result for the second successive home match.

JS29818870-6367793Aaron McLean made his first start and it was the 30-year-old that nearly presented Blues with their first chance of the game. The Hull loanee combined with Dan Burn to present Tom Adeyemi with chance to run through on goal, but the midfielder was stopped by a fine challenge.

Birmingham continued to apply pressure to the visitors, but despite a string of set-pieces, Doncaster’s defence held firm and Paul Dickov’s side went on the attack themselves.

Richie Wellens’ close-range effort was blocked among a sea of bodies before James Coppinger saw his shot diverted for a corner.

Blues rallied once more and nearly broke the deadlock when Novak tried his luck with a 30-yard lob, but his adventurous strike was pushed over the bar by Ross Turnbull. Moments later Aaron McLean had the chance to find the net on his full debut but Rovers’ keeper Turnbull again denied the home side.

After 30 minutes, Birmingham did take the lead.

JS29818860-6367791The marauding Mitch Hancox ran down the line once more and delivered a perfect ball to Novak who, after chesting it down, thumped a half-volley into the roof of the net, taking his tally to 3 for the season.

But the joy was very nearly short-lived as Mark Duffy’s powerful effort looked to be heading goal-bound, before Darren Randolph tipped it over.

Blues went searching for a second goal to put themselves in a commanding position before the break. That nearly came to fruition via Nikola Zigic but the Serbian striker headed wide from two yards out. Thankfully the assistant’s flag was raised so the glaring miss was of little significance.

Doncaster started the stronger of the two sides after the break as first Federico Macheda nearly brought the visitors level but Darren Randolph once more denied Rovers with a superb block. Then, Callum Reilly had to be as his most aware to block another goal-bound attempt.

But Blues could hold out no longer and the visitors drew level.

Substitute David Cotterill was allowed time and space by Adeyemi and the Welsh international unleashed a 30-yard thunderbolt into the top corner to the delight of the 317 travelling Doncaster fans.

JS29822065-6367889Lee Clark’s side went in search of another goal to take the lead in front of the St Andrew’s, but Jesse Lingard’s run was stopped prematurely before Zigic couldn’t get enough on his header to test Turnbull.

Blues resorted to the long-ball during the closing stages but despite a series of promising knock-downs by Novak and Zigic, nobody could get a clean shot on target and Birmingham had to make do with a single point with Doncaster rising to 15th and Blues to 17th.

Birmingham manager Lee Clark:

“It’s another point, it keeps our unbeaten run going, but I feel it’s an opportunity lost.

“We put ourselves in a great position and then second half, for some reason, we didn’t continue what we did in the first half.

“They started dominating the game a little bit in terms of getting at us a bit too easy, and then we give a goal away that we shouldn’t do.

“It’s a wonderful strike, I’m not taking anything away from that, but they had too many unforced passes leading up to it.”

Doncaster manager Paul Dickov:

“We don’t want to get beat in games and limp off the pitch at the end of it. If we’re going to get beat, at least get beat having a good go.

“I didn’t feel as though we did that well enough in the first half.

“My players know what I’m like as a manager, if they go out there and have a right good go then I’ll back them all the way – win, lose or draw.

“But I keep saying to them if you do have a go and try to do the right things then you’ve always got a chance of getting points.”

Starting line up: Randolph; Caddis, Robinson, Burn, Hancox; Adeyemi, Reilly (Elliott 79′), Novak, Lingard (Shinnie 86′); McLean (Burke 70′), Zigic

Subs not used: Doyle, Lee, Ferguson, Dudka

Man of the match: Lee Novak

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