Hoilett rescues point for Rovers
City and Rovers centre-backs leave field injured
By Hayley Paterson. Last Updated: 09/04/11 5:58pm
Blackburn's Junior Hoilett capitalised on a Liam Ridgewell error to cancel out an earlier goal from Birmingham's Lee Bowyer as the relegation strugglers had to settle for a share of the spoils.
The 20-year-old went on a solo run after dispossessing Ridgewell, who had hesitated on the ball, before rounding Ben Foster and converting deep into injury time in the first half.
That goal brought the clash at Ewood Park level after Cameron Jerome broke free of a resilient Rovers defence to clip a ball towards an unmarked Bowyer who was just yards away from the goal-line and could not miss.
Rovers will feel aggrieved about that 32nd minute strike by the visitors after the hosts felt Jermaine Jones was fouled by Craig Gardner in the build-up.
However, despite an entertaining game in Lancashire neither side could break the two solid defences again with both Paul Robinson and Foster in fine form between the sticks. Seb Larsson saw his first-half free-kick come back off the post and another well saved by Robinson.
Ryan Nelsen left the field early for Rovers due to injury and his counterpart Roger Johnson was also substituted later following a knock to his head as both sides shared the spoils
With 14th-placed Blackburn facing a Birmingham City side which was just one place below them and desperately needing to change their appalling away form, everything was set-up for a mouth-watering encounter in Lancashire.
And both sides started brightly with Morten Gamst Pedersen featuring for the hosts after overcoming illness and David Dunn facing several of his old team-mates for Rovers.
Steve Kean left Brett Emerton on the bench and were without the suspended Steven Nzonzi as Alex McLeish named an unchanged team which was still missing star strikers Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins after they failed late fitness tests.
Rovers carved out a fine chance in the opening seconds when Hoilett found an advancing Jermaine Jones just outside of the box, however the German-born midfielder lost his footing and the chance went begging.
Martin Olsson was straight into Chris Foy's book for a sliding challenge on Seb Larsson in an afternoon of football which saw several mis-timed challenges, scores of bookings and a number of minutes added on in either half through injuries.
Powerhouse Chris Samba came close in the fifth minute when he rose highest to connect with Pedersen's dangerous free-kick, however the Rovers skipper glanced his header wide of Foster's right-hand post.
Nelsen then had a half-chance from a Pedersen delivery which the impressive Foster was equal to.
Cameron Jerome had a bit of a thankless task in the opening minutes as he partnered Kevin Phillips for McLeish's men, however caused some problems with his pace.
And it was in fact the 24-year-old's speed which led to the opener in the 32nd minute when he surged down the right flank to the byline and stood an inviting cross into Bowyer's path who could do little else but net from point-blank range.
City could have made it 2-0 a couple of minutes before the break when Dunn fouled Gardner and Larsson saw his curling free-kick come back off Robinson's left-hand post.
Johnson was then floored for a lengthy period of time following a melee in the Blues' box and had to go off for treatment. However the 27-year-old came back on to the field and seemed to prove a costly distraction for fellow defender Ridgewell who stumbled on the ball. Hoilett snatched it off his toes before rounding Foster and netting smartly for the equaliser.
Johnson did eventually go off with Curtis Davies replacing him in the second-half.
Larsson again came close with a free-kick however Robinson was at full stretch to deny the Swedish set-piece specialist.
Rovers came close in the 55th minute when tricky Hoilett turned in the box and found Santa Cruz who headed on to the bar.
The home side looked the more dangerous as the final minutes approached and Pedersen saw his low shot come back of a resilient Birmingham wall.Clear-cut chances then proved few and far between as a scrappy final 10 minutes ended with a point each as both sides continue to battle the drop.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|1||Shots on Target||2|
|10||Shots off Target||2|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||26||39|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||26||27|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|