Dubious Penalty Gifts Birmingham A Point
Consecutive away trips to the Midlands and more points dropped.
A highly controversial penalty for Birmingham ensured City left St Andrews with a point for the second season running.
Craig Gardner dispatched the penalty - after Patrick Vieira was harshly penalised for a foul on substitute Kevin Phillips- , as City`s stranglehold on the top four narrows with a disappointing 2-2 draw.
Carlos Tevez and Aleskander Kolarov gave us the lead on two separate occasions, but a defensive mistake and dismal refereeing allowed Birmingham to battle back and claim their second draw against us this season.
Defeating the lesser teams and winning away from home were two problems usually associated with City, but after a devastating run of performances and results away from home, the problems looked to have faded.
However- after firmly looking in place to mount a title challenge- five points dropped in two consecutive games has allowed the chasing pack to edge closer and the leaders to gallop effortlessly into the distance.
St Andrews isn`t a place to usually run riot at with only Everton and the impressive Arsenal registering victories here. Nevertheless, after four minutes City`s initial worries would have faded.
Birmingham deservedly gained a point at Eastland`s earlier in the season with a defensive master class, so the first goal-if it arrived- was very important.
After Tevez and David Silva had linked up well, the Argentine hit man scored to continue his formidable scoring tally. The anxiety surrounding another Birmingham clean sheet was eradicated, a steeping that should have been built on.
Despite the early chance, City failed to settle - the pitch could have been blamed- but City`s passing and link up play was far from fluent. The passing was off-target, the communication non-existent.
We were to quickly realise how damaging our failure to pressurise was with Nikola Zigic scoring for the first time in eleven games. City`s defensive frailty and lack of leadership was evident as Zigic stretched unmarked to level the scoring.
After an extremely impressive return against Notts County, Micah Richards retained his place, but was unfortunately stretchered off in a terrible clash of heads with Nigel De Jong. Stitches and a half-time substitution were required for De Jong, hospital and severe concussion left Richards in a heap.
With one full back injured, it was great timing for another to make an impact. Kolarov- who is looking more destructive each game- had the chance to use his devastating left foot again. Kolarov`s reluctance to shoot is similar to Roberto Carlos`s, any chance you take aim, from 25 yards out he stood over the dead ball powerfully struck goal-wards with great reward.
Taking the lead for the second time was essential. City looked more comfortable, the passing was more direct and the chances were coming our way.
However, with only 15 minutes left, referee Kevin Friend, was exactly that to the home side with a contentious penalty decision awarded. In fine form, Gardner stepped up and levelled.
City`s lead disappeared and so did the three points.