Tackle row as Blues are held

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Richard Latham

GARY ROWETT in­sisted Nathan Baker should have been sent off for a first-half tackle that left Blues mid­fielder Jon To­ral nurs­ing a swollen knee.

Birm­ing­ham couldn’t find a way past strug­gling Bris­tol City but still found them­selves in the play-off places come the fi­nal whis­tle.

But boss Rowett was in­censed, hav­ing re­viewed the 22nd-minute foul that earned Bris­tol cen­tre­back Baker a cau­tion.

Rowett said: “It was a bad tackle by Baker. I have watched it again and it looked even worse than it did at the time.

“Jon’s knee has swollen up and we will have to wait to as­sess it. It could prove a se­ri­ous in­jury.

“In my opin­ion it was an of­fence wor­thy of a straight red card rather than a yel­low.”

City dom­i­nated the first half against their in-form op­po­nents and Rowett ad­mit­ted: “It was a bless­ing for us to get in at half-time with the score­sheet still blank.

“We didn’t play with enough qual­ity and they were the bet­ter side, with­out cre­at­ing too many clear chances.

“We were much bet­ter af­ter the break, but didn’t show enough com­po­sure in the fi­nal third.

“The way Bris­tol played sug­gested they may be in a false po­si­tion. But we showed char­ac­ter on a day when we were not at our best.”

How Birm­ing­ham emerged from a one-sided first 45 min­utes with a clean sheet only they will know.

Bris­tol ram­paged for­ward from the open­ing whis­tle and Jonathan Kod­jia should have given them a first-minute lead when shoot­ing wide from a Lee Tom­lin cross.

Tom­lin en­joyed an im­pres­sive de­but on loan from Bournemouth. He was be­hind many of Bris­tol’s in­ci­sive first-half moves, which only lacked a clin­i­cal fin­ish.

Birm­ing­ham goal­keeper To­masz Kuszczak made div­ing saves to deny Mar­lon Pack, Kod­jia and Luke Free­man, while Tom­lin curled a shot wide from the edge of the box.

Kod­jia headed over a Bobby Reid cross and Tom­lin had a shot blocked by Kuszczak as Bris­tol kept their in-form op­po­nents pinned back.

Birm­ing­ham’s only first-half goal at­tempts of note came from a Stephen Glee­son free-kick on 26 min­utes. His first shot was blocked by the wall and the se­cond flew yards wide.

Tom­lin was con­vinced he should have been awarded a penalty dur­ing first-half stop­page time. He went down un­der a chal­lenge from Paul Cad­dis, but ref­eree Rob Lewis was well placed and is­sued a yel­low card for div­ing.

Blues looked much more threat­en­ing af­ter the break, and it was Bris­tol goal­keeper Richard O’Don­nell who had to pro­duce the save of the match on 65 min­utes.

The loa­nee from Wi­gan Ath­letic dived ac­ro­bat­i­cally to get his left hand to a 25-yard shot from Birm­ing­ham sub­sti­tute Jac­ques Maghoma.

Bris­tol had a great chance to win it at the death when Luke Free­man crossed from the left and sub­sti­tute Kieran Agard headed badly wide when well placed.

Robins in­terim man­ager John Pem­ber­ton ad­mit­ted: “We are very frus­trated not to have won the game.

“Lee Tom­lin tells me he was clipped for the penalty ap­peal. I don’t see why he would go down when he would have had a clear shot.

“But we didn’t get on the end of enough crosses and when we did the fin­ish­ing wasn’t good enough. Hav­ing said that, we were play­ing a very good side and it could turn out to be an ex­cel­lent point.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

LET­TING FLY: Birm­ing­ham’s Jac­ques Maghoma shoots at goal

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