By Tim Hodges
Birmingham City 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0
Albion had to dramatically change their starting line up today after Amex hero Will Buckley was injured in the pre match warm up.
It appeared from Gus Poyets original team sheet, that Buckley would spearhead a five man midfield that also originally included Chilean international Jara Reyes, who later on appeared to switch to a more defensive position
However after Buckley’s omission, Ashley Barnes took his place in a more orthodox 4-4-2.
Romain Vincelot replaced Lewis Dunk in defence and new signing Billy Paynter was on the bench along with the Frank Sinatra of the Albion, Mauricio Taricco.
The match itself started as a pretty drab affair the first chance and one of the best of the entire game fell to Birmingham’s Marlon King who shot wide when well placed, after a free kick from the left.
Albion themselves had a successions of shots from distance, Sparrow, Bridcutt and Barnes all trying their luck, but none really tested Myhill in the blues goal.
The match seemed to slow down a little as half time approached and both teams were largely cancelling each other out. Indeed the first corner didn’t come until the last five minutes of the first half, which was from Birmingham but dealt with by Albion.
At half time it was noticeable Albion had only four substitutes warming up.
One of those, Billy Paynter replaced Sparrow early in the second half and the game suddenly swung in Albion’s favour.
Paynter linked up well Bridcutt and Mackail-Smith and really began to put himself about and looks the perfect foil for Mackail-Smith.
Paynter then exchanged passes with Barnes and the Leeds loanee again played in Mackail – Smith, who shot narrowly wide.
In fact Albion almost adopted a three pronged attack as Paynter, Barnes and Mackail-Smith all linked up well, but once more could not find that end product.
At the other end Albion brummie Marco Painter, was having a good game, effortlessly dealing with whatever Wood or King could throw at him.
The game then petered out again, until the last 10 minutes and after Birmingham had replaced Wood and King for Rooney and Zigic, for the Albion Taricco came out of retirement again, to replace Jara Reyes.
Late on Albion should have had a penalty and Barnes had a half chance cleared by Birmingham.
Down the other end for a while Greer and Calderon were finding it tough to deal with substitute Zigic but the threat was well dealt with.
Right at the ended after the keeper fumbled, Mackail – Smith had a chance to claim victory for Albion but he fired high and wide and the striker now hasn’t scored for the Seagulls since September 27th.
Albion: Harper; Calderon, Greer, Vincelot, Painter; Bridcutt, Jara Reyes; Buckley, Sparrow, Noone; Mackail Smith. Subs: Ankergren, Barnes, Paynter, Taricco, LuaLua
Birmingham: Myhill; Carr, Davies, Caldwell, Ridgewell; Burke, Fahey, Spector, Beausejour; Wood, King. Subs: Doyle, Murphy, King, N’Daw Rooney.
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)
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