Birmingham 1 Man United 1

Darren Fletcher

Birm­ing­ham City 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 1, St Andrew´s Sta­dium, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, Jan­uary 9, 2010. Man­chester Uni­ted missed the op­por­tun­ity to go top of the ta­ble af­ter a 1-1 draw ag­ainst Birm­ing­ham City at St Andrew´s. Camer­on Jerome put City in­to the lead sev­en min­utes be­fore the sound of the ha­lf-time sig­nal, on­ly for de­fender Scott Dann to net an own-goal in the 63rd min­ute of the clash.

Af­ter los­ing 1-0 to Coca-Cola Foot­ball Lea­gue One club Leeds Uni­ted at Old Traf­ford in the FA Cup Third Ro­und the pre­vi­ous week­end, Man­chester Uni­ted locked horns wi­th Birm­ing­ham City at the St Andrew´s Sta­dium on the sec­ond Sat­urday of 2010. Key play­ers Mi­chael Car­rick, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Ry­an Gig­gs, and An­tonio Va­lencia were all back in ac­tion for Uni­ted, whi­le goal­keeper Ed­win van der Sar, de­fenders Rio Fer­dinand, John O´Shea, and Ne­manja Vid­ic, and mid­fielder Owen Har­greaves were all side­lined wi­th dif­fer­ent in­jury prob­lems. Man­chester United´s pro­vi­sion­al squad for the fix­ture in­cluded To­masz Kusz­czak, Ben Amos, Ra­fael da Silva, Wes Bro­wn, Jon­ny Evans, Ga­ry Ne­ville, Fa­bio da Silva, Pat­rice Ev­ra, An­tonio Va­lencia, Oli­veira An­der­son, Paul Scho­les, Ji-Sung Park, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Mi­chael Car­rick, Ry­an Gig­gs, Way­ne Roo­ney, Mame Biram Di­ouf, and Mi­chael Owen. In front of a crowd of al­most 30,000 spec­tat­ors at St Andrew´s, eighth pla­ced Birm­ing­ham and sec­ond po­si­tioned Man­chester Uni­ted played out an ex­cit­ing and fren­et­ic 1-1 draw in the 21st ro­und of the Pre­mier Lea­gue. Des­pite of the fact that Uni­ted dom­in­ated the fir­st frame totally out­play­ing The Blues, the vis­it­ing te­am sel­dom ma­naged to threaten the tight ho­me de­fence, and in­stead it was the hosts who went in­to the lead sev­en min­utes be­fore the ha­lf-time break. City saw a lot more of the ball fol­low­ing the re­sump­tion and the ho­me out­fit cre­ated a num­ber of scor­ing op­por­tun­it­ies as the sec­ond pe­riod pro­gressed, but Man­chester Uni­ted fi­nally had their equal­ising goal three min­utes pa­st the hour ma­rk. Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­al Way­ne Roo­ney kept on work­ing hard as al­ways, tho­ugh, and the marks­man put Birm­ing­ham right full­back Steph­en Carr un­der severe pres­sure thro­ugh the who­le of the ga­me. But as things turned out, Man­chester Uni­ted had to settle for just one point in­stead of three, and thereby missed the chan­ce to go top of the standings.

Man­chester Uni­ted, who had edged out Birm­ing­ham by 1-0 at Old Traf­ford in the re­verse en­counter on the fir­st Sunday of the 2009-10 Pre­mier Lea­gue sea­son, had sev­er­al de­cent chances dur­ing the fir­st ha­lf, but The Reds fou­nd it hard to break the de­fens­ive dead­lock. Then, com­pletely ag­ainst the flow of play, City went ahead as a good cross from Scot­tish stri­ker Ja­mes Mc­Fad­den was knock­ed out to ex­per­i­enced mid­fielder Lee Bow­yer who­se head­er was bloc­ked by Man­chester Uni­ted and North­ern Ire­land de­fender Jon­ny Evans be­fore for­mer Eng­land U21 in­ter­na­tion­al Camer­on Jerome fi­nally got the ball, put­ting the blue shirts in­to a 1-0 lead sev­en min­utes ahead of the ha­lf-time in­ter­val. Fol­low­ing 63 min­utes of fierce ac­tion, Sir Al­ex Ferguson´s title chasers ev­entually ma­naged to square the mat­ch as Birm­ing­ham centre back Scott Dann con­ceded an own goal. Way­ne Rooney’s drive was bloc­ked as was Paul Scholes’s ef­fort be­fore the ball landed at the feet of Pat­rice Ev­ra and his shot was de­flec­ted in­to the net by poor Dann. The Brummies were far from de­mor­al­ised and Ecuadori­an for­ward Chris­ti­an Ben­itez tested Man­chester Uni­ted shot stop­per To­masz Kusz­czak wi­th a bril­liant ef­fort shortly af­ter­wards. As the ga­me drif­ted away to a draw, how­ever, Scot­land mid­fielder Dar­ren Fletch­er was sent off by ref­er­ee Ma­rk Clat­ten­burg for his sec­ond yel­low card of­fence af­ter a foul on Jerome in the 84th min­ute. Birm­ing­han City Te­am: Joe Hart, Steph­en Carr, Scott Dann, Ro­ger John­son, Liam Ridgewell, Se­basti­an Larsson, Lee Bow­yer, Bar­ry Fer­guson, Ja­mes Mc­Fad­den, Chris­ti­an Ben­itez, Camer­on Jerome. Sub­stitutes: Maik Tay­lor, Mar­tin Tay­lor, Stu­art Parn­aby, Franck Queudrue, Keith Fa­hey, Ga­ry Mc­Shef­frey, Kev­in Phil­lips. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: To­masz Kusz­czak, Ra­fael da Silva, Wes Bro­wn, Jon­ny Evans, Pat­rice Ev­ra, An­tonio Va­lencia, Paul Scho­les, Ji-Sung Park, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Mi­chael Car­rick, Way­ne Roo­ney. Sub­stitutes: Ben Amos, Fa­bio da Silva, Ga­ry Ne­ville, Oli­veira An­der­son, Ry­an Gig­gs, Mame Biram Di­ouf, Mi­chael Owen.

UNITED FEATURES UNITED REPORTS UNITED REVIEWS UNITED STORIES

Front Page