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Season 2007-08
Birmingham City (a) Premiership

Date: Monday 17th March 2008, 8.00pm
Live on Setanta

 St. Andrews

Dry and chilly

Admission: 35 with pay on the night turnstiles

Programme: 3.50 


Birmingham City

Newcastle United

1 - 1



33mins James McFadden turned Abdoulaye Faye with ease and poked the ball past the advancing Steven Harper who was vainly appealing for a handball... or a new centre back.... 0-1

Half time: Birmingham 1 Newcastle 0

Obafemi Martins leapt to win a header, took a pass from Owen and drilled a low shot that was only parried. Michael Owen was fourth favourite to reach the rebound but he sprinted through the field and won the race by a toe to prod the ball into the empty net. 1-1

Full time: Birmingham 1 Newcastle 1

We Said

Kevin Keegan said:

I wanted to put a team out that had a goal threat in it.

I obviously had Mark Viduka back and I thought he was superb considering he hadnt played for nine weeks.

He gave us a focal point and allowed Michael Owen to come off him. I thought he did very well, and not just because of his goal.

His awareness and ability to keep the ball were tremendous. 

Obafemi Martins was another goal threat - hes capable of spectacular things and he's got pace and that frightens people.

I thought we would have a lot of stability behind those three, giving them a platform to win the game.

The second half was more how I envisaged it.

On Owen:

A lot of people have been questioning him because he is a big-name player, but he won't stop scoring if you give him chances.

"I am delighted to have a player like Michael at the club. His leadership and work-rate have been fantastic."

"He is a clinical finisher and a very clever player. Michael is top quality and a world-class player, make no mistake about that.

"It went very well. I asked Michael to play a bit deeper but he keeps the ball so well and has such great awareness that he could play anywhere.

"I told him that despite the fact he had to come deeper he would still get chances - and of course he did.

On Martins:

"I haven't got a problem with him. I wouldn't be happy to fetch a player off and then seeing them doing cartwheels and being pleased to come off."

He added: "You've seen it with Robbie Keane as well the other night. I like that in players. All right, I went over to him afterwards and said I know it hurts when you come off.

"But it was not for his performance. It was just tactical and myself saying 'let's just shore things up here'. Obafemi put a really good stint in.

"He has every right to be disappointed but I think whoever I fetched off at Birmingham would have been disappointed because they certainly were committed.

"There is no problem. We won't fight or fall out."

On the rest:

"There were some really good performances in Newcastle shirts. I thought Geremi was outstanding and Nicky Butt and Joey Barton in midfield gave us a bit of an engine room.

"They all put in a shift and if they keep doing that we will be all right.

"The players did very well, we battled and we showed we wanted to pass the ball and go forward.

Baffling quotes from Oba Martins in the Chronicle:

"One point isn't too bad but we know that we needed three really.

"Yet this sets us up for Saturday to win and four points from six games would be very, very good for us after the results we've had."

Take the word games out of that sentence and it begins to make sense.....

They Said

City Boss Alex McLeish commented:

"I think Newcastle deserved something for their second-half performance after the first half had belonged to us."

"We couldn't get the second goal that would have given us some breathing space.

"Newcastle have many influential players and they caused us problems in the second half but we are continuing to pick up points.

"At the end of the season, points like this might be like gold dust and we are difficult to beat at home."

"We lost a bit of impetus when he (Larsson) went off and he has been exceptional for us this year."


Toon @ St. Andrews - thirty year record:

2007/08 drew 1-1 Owen
2006/07 drew 2-2 Taylor, Dyer (FA)
drew 0-0
2004/05 drew 2-2 Jenas, Butt
2003/04 drew 1-1 Speed
2002/03 won 2-0 Solano, Ameobi
2000/01 lost 1-2 Dyer (LC)
1999/00 lost 0-2 (LC)
1992/93 won 3-2 Peacock, Scott, OG 
1985/86 won 1-0 Reilly
1979/80 drew 0-0
1977/78 lost 0-


So when was the last time we came to this horrible place as underdogs, expecting to get beaten? 

Even when we were thumped 3-0 here in our relegation season in 1977/78, Birmingham were down there with us and in a poor run of form, having lost their first four games of the season.

It's certainly been a while.

But we went into this one as second favourites with an appalling run which started under Allardyce but has continued with added interest under Keegan, so any sort of result was going to be welcome here.

Keegan's line-up was a bold one in that it included Owen, Martins and Viduka. Putting the lesser-spotted Australian in was something of a gamble given his length of absence. But at least it proved that Smith was droppable....

To see Geremi in midfield was disheartening and, for me, Barton's head is still all over the place so I didn't like the look of our middle three, although I had confidence in Butt, despite his inability to pass/shoot further than ten yards.

After the game Keegan sung the praises of Viduka, Geremi and Barton so perhaps that just shows what I know about football. Or did it...? I suspect that Keegan, with limited options, used his post-match utterances to try and gee those three up because to my mind they were awful.

Geremi's distribution and set-pieces were as bad as I've seen, Barton was slow, distracted and wayward, while Viduka was the proverbial lump of lard, reluctant to move more than a couple of yards and his holding of the ball wasn't great. There's lacking match fitness and then there's just bone idle swaggering....

But even those three were outdone by arguably our best Allardyce signing, Faye. His marking of McFadden was just plain embarrassing. Given better service, the Scot should have been clutching the match ball after this one.

There was no better example than the Birmingham goal, footage of which should be X-rated from a defensive perspective. McFadden turned Faye with ease and poked the ball past the advancing Harper who vainly appealed for a handball... or a new centre back....

At that point we looked dreadful. Jose Enrique's inaccurate long punts forward seemed to be our only attacking option, although it nearly paid off once when the ball ended up with Owen who fired narrowly over the bar.

If Big Sam was still in charge then howls of derision would have greeted the half-time whistle from the away end but Keegan's honeymoon period is being extended way beyond all reason.

That's not a bad thing, though, as hysteria wasn't going to help us much in the second half.

Whatever Keegan had said to his troops during the break up the road at Villa, he must have said the opposite here as we skipped out after the interval and looked surprisingly spirited.

Owen had a fantastic opportunity to equalise just yards from goal but his flick was palmed wide by Taylor. It was easy to think we had lost our chance and that the world was against us but minutes later Martins leapt to win a header, took a pass from Owen and drilled a low shot that was only parried.

Owen was fourth favourite to reach the rebound but he sprinted through the field and won the race by a toe to prod the ball into the empty net. He ran to the away end to rejoice just a few yards in front of us but such were the celebrations I didn't even see him.

Martins had come to life at this point and his flicks and sprints were hurting a clearly petrified home defence. The danger was we would push forward and get caught on the break again but Birmingham had completely lost their way at this point.

Viduka charged through the middle with Owen and Oba either side of him. Time stood still as the easiest of touches would put either of them through. Unfortunately Viduka also stood still and crashed to the floor sending the ball way too far ahead of his colleagues.

It was to be our clearest chance of winning the game, although Martins forced a good low stop from Taylor moments later. And then Keegan took off our number nine just as it he looked to be coming to the boil. A substitution that would surely have had the cameras picking up "you don't know what you're doing" being snarled at the dug-out. Not so, although it was certainly booed by a number of the away end.

Gung-ho KK had shocked everyone by going 4-4-2, although N'Zogbia did seem to be doing his best to stay 4-3-3 and to say we were "shoring things up" seemed a little odd. Conceding a goal would, of course, have been disastrous but all three points were definitely for the taking. Again, it was a decision that would have been lambasted had it been Sam or Souness.

City sub Zarate's orange boots flashed an effort just wide and thankfully our back four weren't put under any great pressure as three minutes of injury time came and went.

The players came over to celebrate a point won and that didn't seem inappropriate. Obviously they had to walk our way to get off the pitch but you get the feeling that they would have made the effort anyway. Another good sign.

If this doesn't give us the impetus to beat Fulham on Saturday then we really will be in trouble. The feel good factor might just be around the corner if we do grab the three points, anything less and it may never be attainable for Keegan & Co.

A phrase much stronger than "must-win" needs to be invented for Saturday....

Niall Mackenzie


Page last updated 18 October, 2018