The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By John Wragg

IF LUKAS Jutkiewicz had taken ei­ther of two late chances, Gian­franco Zola’s con­tro­ver­sial reign at Birm­ing­ham City would be off and run­ning with a win but the striker at least earned him a re­play.

A month ago Blues were thrashed 4-0 at New­cas­tle in the Cham­pi­onship, a de­feat that sealed Gary Rowett’s shock sack­ing and brought the sur­prise ar­rival of Zola.

Zola has faced noth­ing but crit­i­cism with only one point from four games. He was booed off with an­gry fans chant­ing Rowett’s name at the end of last week’s dis­mal 3-1 home de­feat by Brentford.

But the Ital­ian’s head was high this time with fans belt­ing out the club an­them “Keep Right On” as Blues re­cov­ered from go­ing an early goal be­hind and get­ting close to knock­ing New­cas­tle out of the FA Cup.

It was Jutkiewicz who got the 44thminute equaliser af­ter Daryl Murphy put New­cas­tle in front in the fifth minute with his first goal since his £3.5mil­lion move from Ip­swich in Au­gust.

The Mag­pies were sec­ond best for the rest of the tie but were let off the hook by Jutkiewicz. Seven min­utes from time he headed a cross from sub­sti­tute Josh Dacres-Cog­ley wide and then did the same with David Davis’ cross four min­utes later.

Zola said: “When New­cas­tle scored you could see my play­ers were ner­vous. So was I. Four games with­out a win drains con­fi­dence.

“We didn’t clear the cor­ner be­cause of ner­vous­ness and they scored. But af­ter that it was the best the team has played for me. We de­served to win.”

The 4,671 trav­el­ling New­cas­tle fans cer­tainly en­joyed Murphy scor­ing from close range fol­low­ing chaos caused by Achraf Lazaar’s cor­ner, but you could feel the ap­pre­hen­sion in the rest of St An­drew’s. Two suc­ces­sive home de­feats and the doubt sur­round­ing Zola’s ap­point­ment has de­pressed the place, but out of ad­ver­sity Birm­ing­ham be­gan to stitch to­gether foot­ball that had New­cas­tle on the back foot.

By half-time Birm­ing­ham were on top and de­serv­ing the equaliser Jutkiewicz side-footed in from Jonathan Grounds’ ex­cel­lent cross.

Jutkiewicz was in­her­ited by Zola from Rowett, the striker be­ing signed on-loan and the deal be­ing made per­ma­nent by Zola for £1m from Burnley last week.

Zola has £9m more to spend, with West Brom’s Gary Gard­ner and Rene Krhin of Granada to try and clinch to­day.

The loss of striker Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic with a cut leg suf­fered in the melee around Murphy’s goal af­fected New­cas­tle and boss Rafa Ben­itez agreed: “Mitro­vic’s in­jury changed things for us.

“Birm­ing­ham were a good team be­fore and they are a good team un­der Gian­franco too.

“New­cas­tle’s his­tory is proud in the FA Cup and the Cup is mas­sive for me. I won it with Liver­pool. But I don’t want to lie to our fans, we will try and get through with our squad, us­ing play­ers who are not used too much.” BIRM­ING­HAM: (4-3-3) Legzdins 6, Spec­tor 7 (Dacres-Cog­ley 44 7), Shot­ton 6, Robin­son 6, Grounds 6, Davis 7, Glee­son 6, Kieften­beld 6, Fab­brini 6 (Ste­wart 79 5),Jutkiewicz 8, Adam 6 Subs not used: Kuszczak, Tesche, Cot­ter­ill,Brown, Mor­ri­son NEW­CAS­TLE: (4-4-2) Sels 6, Yedlin 6,Las­celles 6, Han­ley 6, Haidara 5 (Ritchie 70 5) Lazaar 6, Tiote 5 (Hay­den 65 5), Col­back 5, Anita 5,Mitro­vic 3 (Gouf­fran 10 7), Murphy 6 Subs not used: Dar­low, Clark, Dum­mett, Gayle

PIC­TURE: Me­dia Im­age

LEV­ELLER: Birm­ing­ham’s Lukas Jutkiewicz en­joys his equaliser STAR MAN LUKAS JUTKIEWICZ Birm­ing­ham

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.