Tough, Tense, Lively, But Goalless
Birmingham City 0
It was tough, it was tense and it was played at a lively pace but there were no goals in the derby clash between Wolves and Birmingham on a spring like afternoon at Molineux.
Jack Price and Bjorn Sigurdarson returned to the starting eleven whilst Kevin McDonald and Joe Mason dropped down to the bench. Three former Molineux men were in the Blues line up – goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and midfielders Stephen Gleeson and David Davis.
City kicked-off attacking the South Bank end and after a few seconds there was a brief altercation between Price and Clayton Donaldson which ended with a word from the referee and a handshake.
Sigurdarson won the first corner of the game in the fifth minute. Jeremy Helan lifted the ball over and Conor Coady got a good head to the ball but it went straight to Kuszczak.
The next threat also came from Coady who hit a low shot from 25-yards that took a deflection off Jonathan Spector on its way to the diving Kuszczak who needed two attempts to gather.
Davis was booked for a crude challenge on Matt Doherty who needed attention before he could continue. Nathan Byrne’s fee-kick, from wide on the right, came to nothing. Then it was Paul Caddis’s turn to see the yellow card – this after he had kicked the back of Helan’s foot.
Gleeson’s angled drive took a deflection as it flew dangerously through the home goalmouth for Birmingham’s first corner with 27 minutes gone. Gleeson’s flag-kick was eventually cleared.
Dominic Iorfa went on one of his marauding runs from halfway to just outside the Blues box. It looked promising but his shot hit a defender and the ball looped gently into Kuszczak’s arms.
In the 41st minute Helan set up Byrne for a cross that was met at the far post by the head of George Saville but Kuszczak was there to make the save.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Blues 0
Michal Zyro was an interval replacement for Byrne and after just 16 seconds of the new half he hit a 25-yard effort that Kuszczak was relieved to see go wide of his far post.
Helan went on a run from just outside his own box to a point some 20-yards from Kuszczak’s goal from where he hit a low shot that bounced away to safety off a defender.
City then made their first change of the afternoon when Jacques Maghoma replaced Maikel Kiefenbeld.
There was a moment of danger as Jonathan Grounds took the ball to the by-line and struck a hard, low cross that Iorfa managed to turn behind with Donaldson an almost certain scorer had he not done so.
Things looked bad as Birmingham broke three on two but Coady saved the day robbing Maghoma of the ball as the midfielder was lining up his shot.
Danny Batth got to Maghoma cross before Donaldson as Blues threatened once more and, midway through the half, loud penalty appeals were rejected after Doherty and Donaldson had tangled in the box.
Saville was booked for a foul on Gleeson and then the visitors wasted a great chance when Donaldson beat the offside trap as he ran onto Jon Toral’s through ball only to shoot wide of the far post with the goal at his mercy.
After Helan had curled a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide at the other end, it was Toral’s turn to spurn a great opportunity for City when he turned and fired inches wide from just eight yards out.
Carl Ikeme was forced into his only real save of the afternoon in the 82nd minute - a brilliant reflex one handed effort to thwart Davis.
Mason went on for Helan for the final few minutes during which another penalty appeal from Donaldson was turned down this time after what looked like a perfectly reasonable challenge from Batth.
The three minutes of stoppage time saw no significant attempts at either end and so both sides had to be satisfied with a point.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Iorfa, Saville, Batth (capt), Hause, Byrne (Zyro 45), Coady, Sigurdarson, Price, Helan (Mason 85).
Unused subs: Martinez, McDonald, Rowe, Deslandes, Hunte.
Booking: Saville (70 – foul).
City: Kuszczak, Grounds, Kiefenbeld (Maghoma 55), Gleeson, Donaldson, Cotterill, Toral, Spector, Davis, Morrison (capt), Caddis.
Unused subs: Legzdins, Robinson, Fabbrini, Arthur, Buckley, Shotton.
Bookings: Davis (16 – foul), Caddis (22 – foul).
Referee: D. Drysdale.