Colchester Utd 1 Birmingham City 1: No relief in sight for troubled Bruce

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The Independent Online

What seemed a once unassailable lead at the top of the Championship has been frittered away. That nine-point lead held over the chasing pack at the turn of the year seems a long time ago now for Birmingham manager Steve Bruce.

The side continue to tumble down the table after yet another game League game without a win and from what they offered against Colchester United, they deserved little more than this draw. A goal from the midfielder Stephen Clemence rescued a point after the home side had gone ahead through Kemal Izzet.

January was a tough month for Bruce, who lost the defender Matthew Upson against his wishes. February seems like it will be more of the same if his expensively-assembled squad do not start performing, but the manager remained upbeat despite this disjoined display that saw his side drop into fourth spot.

Birmingham still have two games in hand over the teams around them, and Bruce is unperturbed by his side's position in the table. "We have had a dodgy run and fair play to the sides that have gone ahead of us," he said. "But there is a long way to go."

This was a game of few chances and the first half was a forgettable affair. Colchester began the second half strongly, and took the lead on 55 minutes through Izzet, who tapped home from close range after Jamie Cureton's shot struck the post.

Birmingham equalised 10 minutes later through Clemence, who headed in a corner from the winger Gary McSheffrey. Birmingham attempted to find another goal but never really threatened with another proper opportunity.

Bruce had slammed the club's board earlier in the week, but he spent 10 minutes before the game chatting to David Sullivan, Birmingham's co-owner and the man who apparently sold arguably the club's best player against the wishes of his manager.

He was reticent when it came to his thoughts about his board and news of Upson's less-than-glorious debut for his new employers, West Ham United, after the defender was injured.

"To be fair, there has been a lot said about Matt Upson and all of that this week," said Bruce. "I am tired of that now. I wish him well and I hope that it's not too serious."

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