MATCH REPORT & GALLERY: Birmingham City 2 Ipswich Town 2

Christophe Berra celebrates his second equaliser at Birmingham. PHOTO: PAGEPIX LTD

Christophe Berra celebrates his second equaliser at Birmingham. PHOTO: PAGEPIX LTD

Birmingham v Ipswich: Christophe Berra twice played Ipswich Town’s get of jail free card at St Andrew’s as Mick McCarthy’s men somehow escaped with a share of the spoils.

The Blues were the creators of their own downfall as they fell behind on two occasions, non-existent marking at a corner allowing David Edgar to head home a 30th minute opener and Cole Skuse’s sloppy pass leading to Clayton Donaldson’s 63rd minute one-on-one finish.

Town had huffed and puffed throughout, but levelled for the first time in the 50th minute when Berra got the faintest of touches on Paul Anderson’s deep free-kick.

Birmingham had chances to kill the game off at 2-1, Alex Henshall fortunate not to concede a penalty, before Berra popped up again – three minutes into stoppage-time – to convert a near post diving header.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy made two changes to his starting line-up following last Saturday’s fine-margins 1-0 loss at Reading.

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Paul Anderson – who impressed in pre-season, then spent a spell out with a hamstring injury before returning as a half-time sub and catching the eye at the Madjeski Stadium – replaced Elliott Hewitt on the right of midfield.

New loan signing Conor Sammon was handed his full debut, coming in for David McGoldrick. The latter had looked a little leggy at the weekend in what was his first start in almost six months, following knee surgery, and McCarthy decided he should be rested with Saturday’s visit of East Anglian rivals Norwich City in mind.

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Following an uneventful and cagey opening 10 minutes, Town created the game’s first opening. Anderson - often switching to the left – saw a cross half-cleared, Jay Tabb’s attempt was blocked into the path of Daryl Murphy but the Irishman couldn’t adjust in time and stabbing his attempt wide.

Moments later, Anderson scampered away down the left on the counter-attack but delayed his cross too long with attackers over-loading the box. In the end his delivery was cleared.

Birmingham finally created their first chance in route one fashion, Jonathan Grounds deep free-kick dropped by Dean Gerken after it appeared that a defender had shoved Christophe Berra into his own defender. Lee Novak poked the loose ball over the ball.The game started to open up and Ipswich went straight up the other end. Luke Hyam’s weak shot from the edge of the box was blocked straight into the path of Murphy but again he couldn’t adjust and stabbed wide.

Birmingham began to grow into the game from this point onwards and created two good openings in quick succession. First, Novak caressed a fine side-footed attempt just wide, following Clayton Donaldson’s neat lay-off. Then, David Cotterill’s cross from the right caused havoc in the six-yard box, Wes Thomas slicing his close-range attempt wide.

With Cotterill getting plenty of crosses in from the right, and Gerken having looked a little indecisive, you sensed that the hosts were beginning to get on top.

They broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, with McCarthy irate at his side’s complete lack of defending at a corner kick. With all the orange shirts packed into the six-yard box, Edgar was given acres of room at the back post. He simply watched Cotterill’s delivery float all the way to him and planted a standing header home.

Moments after the restart, Novak was allowed to drive forwards unopposed and fire a shot just wide of the target. You could virtually see the veins popping in a visibly angry McCarthy’s head.

Town’s lack of creativity and invention without McGoldrick on the pitch was painfully evident, with Murphy and Anderson again unable to find the target of Sammon in the box as the half came to a close.

The only way you could see the visitors getting back into the game was via a set-piece and so proved to be the case five minutes after the restart. Anderson won and delivered a deep free-kick from the left which, on first viewing, looked like it had simply evaded everyone to find the bottom corner. Berra ran away ruffling his hair to indicate that he had got the briefest of touches though.

The goal lifted Town and suddenly they were on the front foot. After Murphy’s head down and Sammon’s lay-off, Anderson forced keeper Darren Randolph to turn the ball around the post. Murphy headed over from the resultant corner.

McCarthy brought on McGoldrick for Sammon in the 60th minute, but it was the hosts who scored the game’s next goal – somewhat out of the blue and, once again, Ipswich makers of their own downfall.

This time Cole Skuse dallied on the ball on the halfway line, eventually gave it straight to Wes Thomas and he quickly sent Donaldson racing clear to coolly slot home.

Ipswich never really threatened an equaliser and they came close to gifting the hosts another goal in the 81st minute. Sub Alex Henshall wafted a leg at Paul Caddis in the box as he looked to burst clear, the Birmingham midfielder went down, but the referee was unmoved.

Then, out of nowhere, Mings provided a long ball, Balint Bajner flicked it on and Anderson’s low cross was met by the diving head of Berra at the near post.

- Reaction to follow.

BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Randolph; Grounds, Edgar, Spector, Caddis (cpt); Cotterill (Robinson 88), Davis (Gleeson 60), Donaldson, Thomas (Johnstone 80); Novak, Hall.

Unused subs: Doyle, Duffy, Brown, Gray.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Berra, Smith, Mings; Anderson, Skuse, Hyam, Tabb (Henshall 80); Murphy (Bajner 80), Sammon (McGoldrick 60).

Unused Subs: Bialkowski, Parr, Hewitt, Bru.

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 14,022 (790 away)

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