Torquay United 0 Birmingham City 0: Taylor saves Blues from joining list of fall guys

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The Independent Online

Steve Bruce breathed a sigh of relief as his Birmingham City side escaped from Plainmoor with a 0-0 draw and a third-round replay a week on Tuesday.

"We had a bit of Lady Luck on our side today," he said. "Especially in the second half, we just didn't perform at all. We are lucky that we are still in with a shout. The players are relieved - and so they should be. We nearly had one of those horrible afternoons where you get a shock and an embarrassment."

Torquay may be battling in League Two against the threat of a Conference future, but Leroy Rosenior's side rose to the challenge from the Premiership strugglers, who were denied a famous Cup giant-killing by Birmingham's goalkeeper, Maik Taylor, and the woodwork. At least the money from the replay is some consolation.

Birmingham were without Mario Melchiot, Muzzy Izzet, David Dunn, Mikael Forssell, Matthew Upson and their new striker Chris Sutton, but they should have been capable of overcoming the Devon team.

Birmingham created most of the first-half chances but the home goalkeeper, Andy Marriott, was equal to everything thrown at him. How the Blues must have wished that they had Sutton or Andrew Johnson, the Crystal Palace striker they made a failed bid for on Friday.

But after the interval the Blues quickly had a close call when Steve Woods hit the post from 25 yards. Alex Lawless then forced Taylor into a save with a well-struck shot, and halfway through the half Jo Kuffour made Taylor make another save. Another chance came and went for the Gulls when Tony Bedeau had a shot blocked by Kenny Cunningham, who was covering behind the beaten Taylor.

The game ended with the Blues hanging on and Taylor making two more saves to keep Birmingham's challenge alive for at least 10 days.