Birmingham and West Brom battle to a draw

Birmingham are still waiting for their first win of the Sky Bet Championship season after being held to a 1-1 home draw by West Brom.

The Blues may be operating under a cloud of a possible 12-point deduction from the English Football League but they produced a performance of rich promise against their local rivals.

In the first clash between the two teams since 2011, Jota gave the hosts a 26th-minute lead and the Spanish winger should have added to his tally two minutes later only to have a penalty saved by Sam Johnstone.

It proved an expensive miss as Scotland international Matt Phillips produced a 39th-minute equaliser for Albion, who missed an opportunity to go third.

Birmingham went into the game having failed to win any of their opening six league games, equalling a club record set in 1978-79 when they were relegated from the Premier League.

There was certainly a lot of promising play from the home side with Jota giving an early indication of his danger and Jacques Maghoma proving troublesome for Albion’s rearguard in which Craig Dawson twice came to their rescue.

Albion’s strike force of Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez were foiled in the first half by some gritty defensive play by Michael Morrison and Harlee Dean.

Despite Birmingham’s indifferent start to the season, they took the initiative but strikers Lukas Jutkiewicz and Che Adams were given few clear-cut openings in the opening 25 minutes.

But the game exploded to live when Birmingham took the lead. A long cross from Gary Gardner to the far post was headed back across goal by Jutkiewicz and Jota squeezed the ball past former Manchester United goalkeeper Johnstone from the narrowest of angles.

Birmingham should have doubled their advantage two minutes later when Kyle Bartley needlessly handled a left-wing cross in the box but Johnstone dived to his left to make an excellent save to keep out Jota’s spot-kick.

The Baggies found their way back into the game after Johnstone’s save and subjected an anxious home defence to a spell of concentrated attacking play.

And they were rewarded by an equaliser six minutes before half-time when Kristian Pedersen failed miserably to clear his lines and Phillips, showing great persistence,  cut in from the right and poked an effort past Lee Camp into the near corner.

Birmingham should have been back ahead before half-time but Adams blazed wildly over the bar from close range.

Adams was thwarted early in the second half by another fine save by Johnstone, while at the other end Camp kept out a smart effort from Harvey Barnes.

West Brom almost won it with six minutes left but Barnes’ effort came back off the crossbar before Birmingham survived the ensuing goalmouth scramble.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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