John salvages last-gasp draw
Ex-Blue secures unlikely point
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 15/08/07 11:06pm
John: Late leveller
Stern John scored in injury-time as Sunderland twice fought back from a goal down to claim a 2-2 draw at Birmingham.
Paul McShane's own goal from Stephen Kelly's header put Blues in front, but Michael Chopra's second goal in two games squared the contest in the second half.
Substitute Garry O'Connor looked to have given Steve Bruce's side the points before the 10-man visitors snatched a point.
With Carlos Edwards injured, and Roy Keane having used all his substitutes, the visitors were down a man, but ex-Blue John popped up in injury-time to secure an unlikely point.
Ross Wallace was key to most of the Black Cats' early moves down the left and he created a second minute chance for Dickson Etuhu, who headed well wide.
Steve Bruce's men responded through Olivier Kapo, who got behind Greg Halford before hitting a low deep cross which was well held by Craig Gordon in the visitors' goal.
But the longer the first half went on the more chances came at a premium, with neither Blues goalkeeper Colin Doyle nor £9million man Gordon having much work to do.
McShane contributed to a brief spell of Sunderland pressure with an ambitious overhead kick in the box before playing an unfortunate part in the Blues' 28th-minute opener.
Larsson's free-kick was headed across goal by Kelly and the ball struck McShane on the chest, diverting it over the line past a helpless Gordon.
Briefly rattled, Sunderland almost presented the home side with another golden opportunity two minutes later when Nyron Nosworthy lost possession to Mikael Forssell on the edge of his own box.
At the other end, David Connolly's appeals for a penalty after falling under Kelly's challenge were waved away by referee Keith Stroud, bringing Keane out of the dugout to protest.
Edwards came close to firing a spectacular equaliser in the 42nd minute but he blazed his rising effort over the bar after finding space on the edge of the Blues box.
Larsson's delightful little lob into the box in the 55th minute set up a chance for the on-rushing Gary McSheffrey but the alert Gordon just beat him to clear.
Keane was soon making his three substitutions and the tactic appeared to have paid off handsomely in the 75th minute when Chopra latched onto a Dickson Etuhu ball and fired a stunning left-foot shot past Doyle from 18 yards.
Birmingham responded seven minutes later through substitute O'Connor, who was fed a delightful ball by Forssell on the left of the Sunderland box and finished clinically after wrong-footing McShane.
In a dramatic finale, there was still time for John to head against the crossbar from point-blank range after great work down the right by Edwards - who went off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem immediately afterwards.In the final minute, Wallace's deflected free-kick was brilliantly parried by Doyle but fell to Nosworthy, who headed back across the face of goal for John to head in and break home hearts.
|Birmingham City||Team Statistics||Sunderland|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||3|
|4||Shots off Target||6|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||30||42|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||30||33|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||30||22|