Darlow denies Blues three points

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December 23, 2013 by Shane Ireland

Birmingham City 0-0 Nottingham Forest

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

Birmingham City made it seven games unbeaten in front of the biggest crowd of the season at St Andrew’s against Billy Davies’ Nottingham Forest.

Blues had a number of chances throughout but found visiting ‘keeper Karl Darlow in inspired form.

23-year-old Darlow was first tested by Tom Adeyemi as the Blues midfielder hit a low, powerful drive that was turned around the post. Despite the seemingly obvious save, the referee awarded Forest a goal-kick.

Moments later it looked as though Darlow’s opposite number would be called upon as the visitors constructed their first dangerous move, but Darren Randolph saw Andy Reid’s effort narrowly evade the target.

Adeyemi had another chance after 21 minutes and a decent proportion of the 23,497 strong crowd even thought it was in. Paul Robinson’s cross was punched by Darlow but only as far as Adeyemi who’s looping header went just over the bar and onto the netting behind.

Blues were applying constant pressure and minutes later Darlow was called upon again to deny the home side taking the lead. Jesse Lingard’s free-kick was met by Kyle Bartley at the back post but the Swansea loanee was denied his sixth of the season as Darlow saved the bouncing header.

Next it was Chris Burke’s turn to test the opposition number one. He cut inside and hit a curling left-footed shot which was smartly turned around the post by Darlow.

On 36 minutes, Blues really should have been ahead. Chris Burke again got the better of the Forest left-back and his cross looked set to be headed home from five yards by Nikola Zigic, but the Serb didn’t quite make the contact needed and Forest escaped once more.

But immediately after the break, Zigic thankfully did make an important header in his own box. Greg Halford headed Andy Reid’s corner towards goal however Zigic was in the right place to nod the ball off the line.

Burke and Zigic were once again involved in Blues’ next chance. The pair combined with Zigic heading the Scottish winger’s cross harmlessly over the Forest crossbar. Moment’s later Burke produced another swinging delivery but Zigic failed to get on the end of the cross while under pressure.

It wasn’t until the 82nd minute that the game burst back into life. Substitute Darius Henderson had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes but his dangerous challenge on Paul Robinson and resulting clash with the Birmingham captain earned him a red card. Robinson was booked by referee Madley after his aggressive response to the mistimed tackle.

Blues threw the kitchen sink at the ten-man visitors but despite strong late pressure, Forest stood firm and gained a valuable point. Meanwhile the draw makes it four consecutive stalemates at St Andrew’s and seven unbeaten overall.

Birmingham manager Lee Clark:

“It was a good point. It was always going to be tough but I thought my players gave everything. They were committed and never gave in.

“Some of the football was excellent and their keeper had to make two or three great saves.

“I could not fault the players. They produced a fantastic performance. In the first half Burke and (Paul) Caddis were very impressive.

“It was probably one of our most fluent home performances and Olly Lee had a big say in this display.”

Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies:

“I thought we played a lot of good football. We have to be more clinical and must add more fire power in the next transfer window. That has always been the plan from the very first day.

“I thought it was a very good point. It’s the third (consecutive) clean sheet, against a side which has not lost in six games.

“You know you always face a competitive match at Birmingham. They make it difficult for you but great credit to the team. They worked really hard and in the end it was a really good point.”

Starting line-up: Randolph, Caddis, Bartley, Burn, Robinson, Burke, Adeyemi, Lingard (Mclean 80), Lee, Shinnie (Gray 60), Zigic

Subs not used: Mullins, Novak, Doyle, Reilly, Brown

Man of the match: Chris Burke

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