After starting the game slightly pedestrian, Blues game back from 2-0 down to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light earlier on today.
With Foster recovering from the back injury that kept him out of England’s friendly against Hungary on Wednesday, he was the only new signing to feature for Blues, with Serbian Nikola Zigic resigned to the bench, after McLeish preferred the O’Connor and Jerome partnership up front.
Sunderland started, and stayed, very much on top for most of the first half, and it was a day of defensive errors for Blues, as Stephen Carr gave away a penalty, albeit a questionable one, on the 25th minute, which Darren bent calmly slotted away, leaving Ben Foster to pick the ball out of his net even after diving the correct way.
Sunderland were the team on top, with new goalkeeper Mignolet having little to do in the first half. But with half time approaching, Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole was sent off after he received a second yellow card for a nasty challenge on Lee Bowyer, which left the home team having to defend their one-goal lead for the whole of the second half. However, changes were needed for Blues if they were to get anything out of this game.
Half time changes for Blues meant McFadden came into the fold, with Fahey making way for him. The eleven men started brighter, and the second half looked more promising for Blues. That was until the 56th minute, when Stephen Carr popped up again much to the delight of Sunderland fans, this time flicking the ball over his own ‘keeper Ben Foster's head and into the empty net; an embarrassing own goal for the Birmingham captain, and a two goal lead for the ten men of Sunderland.
Big Zigic made his premier League debut with half an hour to go. It was surprising he didn’t start, given he fact he offers a lot, and judging on pre-season games Blues also play better when he’s in the team. That theory was again proved today, as Blues started to up the anti when Zigic was introduced, and they literally threw the kitchen sink at Sunderland in search of a goal to get them back into the game.
On the 77th minute Blues got that much-needed break through; McFadden’s short corner was played to Larsson, which found the head of Scott Dann, and ultimately the back of the Sunderland net! Blues were back in the game now, and desperately in search of an equaliser.
As Blues fans, we know we always leave everything till the last minute, no matter what. So it probably didn’t come as too much of a surprise that the final goal in this game went to the away team. Just ten minutes after the goal that got them back into the game, Blues found an equaliser in the form of Liam Ridgewell, who is more than accustomed to getting last minute goals by now! Ridgewell found the net rather scrappily: a Larsson free kick found Scott Dann, which then reflected off the legs of Ridgewell who ran off in celebration of his last-gasp goal.
It was a great comeback for the Blues, but there are still negatives in the performance. We had to come from two goals down, and at the top league we can’t afford to be doing that very often! The first half was poor, but the second half we played slightly better, albeit against only ten men.
A great point under the circumstances, but we will have to perform better if we’re to continue our great home form against Blackburn next Saturday.
Full Time: Sunderland 2-2 Birmingham City