Heskey injury disrupts Birmingham's progress

Birmingham City 2 Newcastle United 2
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The Independent Online

Goals by Dwight Yorke and Matthew Upson had Birmingham in front by the 58th minute and sniffing only a second win of the season.

Already without Mikael Forssell because of a long-term injury, Birmingham suffered another blow when fellow striker Emile Heskey limped off within the first 10 minutes at St Andrew's but still managed something they had not achieved in a Premiership game since last April, namely scoring twice.

Goals by Dwight Yorke and Matthew Upson had them in front by the 58th minute and sniffing only a second win of the season. But Newcastle, the club Birmingham manager Steve Bruce turned down after Sir Bobby Robson was sacked, were determined to preserve their unbeaten record under Graeme Souness and equalised nine minutes later thanks to Nicky Butt's first goal for them.

"I've known Nicky Butt for a long time and I've never seen him do anything like that," Bruce said. "It is ironic seeing that we wanted to bring him here last season."

The home side went behind after three minutes, a little unluckily in one respect, when a shot by Patrick Kluivert struck a defender and spun straight to Jermaine Jenas, who was presented with an easy goal.

But recovery was not long coming, Yorke timing his run perfectly as David Dunn played the ball intelligently into space on the right. The former Blackburn striker's pace took him clear and he shot home through Shay Given's legs.

The officials let the home side down when Yorke was denied a penalty after a push in the back by Stephen Carr, before the loss to injury of Muzzy Izzet brought another headache for Bruce.

But Birmingham lifted themselves again and went in front when Robbie Savage delivered an in-swinging free kick from the left and Upson arrived at the far post to head home the first League goal of his career.

It was the first time in 11 Premiership matches that Birmingham had managed more than one goal and against a Newcastle side that had lost the goal potential of Kluivert, substituted at half-time, they looked to have enough momentum to claim a first Premiership win since beating Manchester City in August.

But now it was Newcastle's turn to respond, which they did spectacularly as Butt put them back on level terms with an acrobatic scissors-kick after Jamie Clapham's clearing header fell to him inside the penalty area.

A draw was a reasonable outcome, although it took two good saves by Given, from Yorke and Dunn, to deny Birmingham a winner, and Laurent Robert almost snatched the points two minutes from time when his long-range free-kick rebounded off the post.

Goals Jenas (3) 0-1; Yorke (23) 1-1; Upson (58) 2-1; Butt (67) 2-2.

Birmingham City (4-4-1-1): Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Clapham; Johnson, Savage, Izzet (Clemence 36), Gronkjaer; Dunn (Gray 83); Heskey (Yorke 8). Substitutes not used Bennett (gk), Morrison.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Carr, O'Brien, Elliott, Bernard (Robert 64); Jenas, Bowyer (Hughes 81), Butt, Bellamy; Kluivert (Milner h-t), Shearer. Substitutes not used Harper (gk), Ambrose.

Referee H Webb (S Yorks).

Booked: Birmingham Clemence, Savage, Dunn. Newcastle Elliott, Butt.

Man of the Match Dunn.

Attendance 29,021.

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