December 8, 2013 by Shane Ireland
Birmingham City 2 -2 Middlesbrough
Blues left it late at home to Middlesbrough as Kyle Bartley’s injury time header extended the home side’s unbeaten run to five games.
Boro twice went ahead with goals from Mustapha Carayol and Daniel Ayala but another Paul Caddis penalty and Bartley’s equaliser meant that Middlesbrough had to make the long journey back north with a point.
Blues once again made a strong start and fashioned a chance when Jesse Lingard volleyed Zigic’s knock-down, but the Manchester United loanee got it all wrong and saw his effort fly wide.
Ten minutes later, Dariusz Dudka was presented with a chance not dissimilar to the one that saw him score a beautiful half-volley for the U21’s a few weeks ago, but this time the Polish midfielder’s shot wasn’t on target.
But this pressure didn’t pay dividends, as Blues found themselves behind after 22 minutes.
Marvin Emnes’ enterprising run down the left culminated in a low ball into Birmingham’s penalty area which Mustapha Carayol controlled before turning and firing a low shot into the net past Darren Randolph.
Boro threatened to double their lead as top scorer Albert Adomah went close, but Randolph this time saw the shot go wide.
Just before half time former Villa stopper Shay Given was forced into action but easily saved Paul Caddis’ effort, preserving Middlesbrough’s lead as referee Darren Bond blew his whistle to mark the end of the first period.
Blues came out flying in the second half, mostly because of Lee Clark’s decision to replace Aaron Mclean with the energetic Chris Burke.
It was Burke who created the host’s first chance as the Scotsman’s cross was very nearly met by Nikola Zigic, who would surely have equalised had he made contact. Moments later, the St Andrew’s faithful did think Birmingham had equalised via a Jonathan Woodgate own goal but the former England international’s poor header agonisingly hit the post instead of finding the back of the net.
Burke was proving a real handful for the Boro defence and after 59 minutes Blues did get their reward for their impressive spell as Burke was brought down inside the box and a penalty was awarded. Paul Caddis stepped up and sent Given the wrong way, scoring his third in as many games.
However, Lee Clark’s side didn’t keep up this intense pressure and Middlesbrough regained the lead ten minutes from time. Following a string of corners Daniel Ayala poked home in front of the 655 away fans, and it looked like Aitor Karanka would have his first away win as Boro boss.
But four minutes into added time substitute Kyle Bartley, who had been sent on for the injured Mitch Hancox, rose highest from Burke’s corner and powerfully headed home to rescue a point for Birmingham.
Both sides slipped down the table following the draw with Blues down to 19th and Middlesbrough to 18th.
Birmingham manager Lee Clark:
“Chris Burke changed the game for us after a disappointing first half only to concede another bad goal.
“We were then staring down the barrel but Kyle Bartley came up with the goods after going on as a late substitute.
“He has pestered me to allow him to go up front and he came up with the goods in terms of a great header from a set-piece.
“We are now unbeaten in five games. It is a good little run which shows we have solidarity.”
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka:
“We are only four points above the relegation zone and not in a very comfortable position.
“When I arrived the most important thing was getting the points as it makes the players and myself more confident.
“It is not the first time it has occurred – but we have made mistakes late in the game.
“At half-time I told my players that we needed a second goal to win the game but Birmingham played very well in the second half to score two goals and earn a draw.”
Starting line up: Randolph; Caddis, Robinson, Burn, Hancox (Bartley 90′); Novak, Reilly, Dudka (Lee 52′), Lingard;Zigic, McLean (Burke HT’)
Man of the match: Chris Burke