Swailes stands firm against Birmingham

Birmingham City 2 Rotherham United 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

One wonders whether the powers that be at Birmingham City ever read their own match programme. In particular, the column by the club psychologist, which yesterday explained how the brain can be taught how to process information effectively.

Probably not, given they seem to be hell-bent on appointing the unproven and worryingly peripatetic Steve Bruce to the fifth managerial role of his fledgling career, when Ronnie Moore, whose second name is loyalty, is not even considered.

Given Moore's remarkable ability to spin gold from straw, what he might achieve with the riches of St Andrew's at his disposal is a frightening thought. This thoroughly deserved point gives his unheralded Millers 15 from their last 24.

For fully 15 minutes Birmingham struggled to get out of their own half, as Rotherham closed them down in midfield and stretched them out wide through the youngsters Chris Sedgwick and Andy Monkhouse.

Shortly after one Sedgwick cross created a chance for Mark Robins that was deflected over the bar, Martin Grainger's foul on the winger resulted in a free-kick on the right. John Mullin drove it in and Alan Lee, once of Aston Villa, headed firmly past Nico Vaesen in the Birmingham goal.

Roused, Birmingham came back hard, but time and again their attacks foundered on the defensive rock that was Chris Swailes. Partnered by Guy Branston, Swailes read the game immaculately, appearing under every City cross.

The pressure was beginning to have an effect, though, if only in forcing Rotherham to defend more deeply. They did so comfortably enough until a minute before the break.

Nicky Eaden's 28-yard free-kick was pushed around the post by Mike Pollitt, resulting in a corner from which Pollitt blocked Geoff Horsfield's header with his feet. Eaden swung in another corner, Pollitt stayed on his line, and with Michael Johnson in close attendance, the ball cannoned into the net off Branston's knee.

The momentum was with City now, and they quickly made it count. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, Horsfield held off Swailes, turned and fired beyond Pollitt. Bested for once, Swailes responded in the best possible fashion, rising to Monkhouse's corner and beating Vaesen at his near post.

Ten minutes later, Mullin almost scored an incredible goal. Vaesen miskicked a poor backpass, and from the touchline 40 yards out Mullin curled a shot on to the bar.

Goals: Lee (16) 0-1; M Johnson (44) 1-1; Horsfield (50) 2-1; Swailes (53) 2-2.

Birmingham City (4-4-2); Vaesen; Eaden, M Johnson, Purse, Grainger; Lazaridis, O'Connor, Woodhouse (Luntala, 90), Sonner; A Johnson (Ferrari, 73), Horsfield. Substitutes not used: Bennett (gk), Burrows, Hutchinson.

Rotherham United (4-4-2); Pollitt; Scott, Swailes, Branston, Hurst; Monkhouse, Mullin, Talbot, Sedgwick; Robins (Warne, 83), Lee. Substitutes not used: Gray (gk), Barker, Daws, Beech.

Referee: P Dowd (Stoke).

Bookings: Birmingham: Grainger. Rotherham: Swailes, Lee.

Man of the match: Swailes.

Attendance: 28,436.