BAKER’S ESCAPE ANGERS ROWETT
Tackle row as Blues are held
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.”
LETTING FLY: Birmingham’s Jacques Maghoma shoots at goal