Ferguson fuels Birmingham resistance
Birmingham City 2 Everton 2
Monday 15 March 2010
Arsène Wenger be warned. Amid the talk of Arsenal's run-in being the easiest of the title contenders, their next away opponents have been casually bracketed with Burnley, Hull and Wolves as a source of potentially easy pickings. But Birmingham City, as their manager Alex McLeish noted after their fightback against Everton, are a team who never give up.
St Andrew's has not witnessed a home defeat since September. Wenger will find a side unrecognisable, in character and quality as well as personnel, from the relegation-bound outfit whose stoppage-time equaliser added insult to the shocking injury Eduardo suffered at Birmingham two years ago.
On that occasion, James McFadden's spot-kick twisted the knife for Arsenal. This time, another Scot, Barry Ferguson, is a more likely thorn in their side. The national captain under McLeish, Ferguson's capacity to retain possession and select a pass were instrumental in Birmingham's recovery here and made him a close rival to the more flamboyant Mikel Arteta as the outstanding performer.
"Barry took charge," McLeish said succinctly. Craig Gardner, too, made an impact even before his crisply-taken equaliser, belying the fact that he was poorly 24 hours earlier. "I told him: 'Look, you can't let us down. If you're going to collapse after 20 minutes, it's a problem'," McLeish said. "He took a while to get into it, but he did, like Lee Bowyer, who had also been ill."
Everton, whose quest for Europa League qualification must continue without Landon Donovan after the American's return to California yesterday, could vouch for the threat awaiting Arsenal. They were cruising after goals by Victor Anichebe and Yakubu. David Moyes thought they had scored six in the 5-1 rout of Hull and it looked as if the manager may need a calculator to keep track of another spree.
Instead, Cameron Jerome cut the deficit and Gardner earned Birmingham a deserved point. "Davie [Moyes] must have thought, 'they told me this was a hard place to come but it's easy', until we got the proverbial finger out," McLeish said. "This is a team that never gives up."
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Hart; Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell; Gardner (Larsson, 59), Ferguson, Bowyer, Fahey; Jerome, Benitez (McFadden, 72). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Phillips, Michel, Queudrue, Tainio.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga; Anichebe (Gosling, 79), Cahill (Rodwell, 76) Arteta, Pienaar; Yakubu (Donovan, 67). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Yobo, Bilyaletdinov.
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).
Booked: Birmingham Bowyer. Everton Yakubu.
Man of the match: Arteta.
Latest in Sport
Commonwealth Games 2014: It ain’t London 2012, but Glasgow aims to go ‘with a roar’
Loic Remy to Liverpool: Striker undergoes medical in Boston ahead of £8.5m move
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid - reports
Liverpool transfer news: Javier Manquillo expected to join on two-year loan deal
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia