A stoppage time equaliser from substitute Nikola Zigic earned Blues a valuable point against promotion-chasing Brighton on Saturday afternoon.
Steven Caldwell headed his side into an early lead, but slack defending allowed Brighton to hit back with two preventable goals. The visitors looked to be on their way to claiming all three points before Zigic struck with a 92nd minute header.
Lee Clark made three changes to his starting line-up. Colin Doyle, Ravel Morrison and Marlon King were all dropped to the subs' bench, with Jack Butland, Rob Hall and Callum Reilly returning to the first XI.
On a freezing day at St. Andrew’s Blues started the game on the front foot and were doing their best to prevent their visitors playing their normal passing game.
The first opportunity fell to the home side when they were awarded a free-kick just 25 yards out, but Hall saw his curling effort deflected behind for a corner.
Minutes later Chris Burke cut inside his marker Wayne Bridge and sent a shot a couple of yards wide of the far post.
With 18 minutes played Blues found themselves in the lead thanks to Steven Caldwell. Hall sent a perfect corner deep into the Brighton box, where Caldwell rose superbly to nod home a bullet header past Tomas Kuszczak.
But the advantage lasted just six minutes, before Brighton hit back with an equaliser.
Andrea Orlandi’s pass found Ashley Barnes free on the edge of the Blues box. The striker took a touch before drilling a low shot straight into the corner of the net, leaving Butland with no chance.
Although the goal appeared to have given the impetus to Brighton, Blues were still looking to push on and Reilly was not too far away with a speculative effort from 20 yards out.
Blues came close to regaining the lead on 40 minutes via Burke. With the winger’s shot heading for the top corner of the net Kuszczak pulled off a stunning save to tip the ball over for a corner.
But almost immediately Blues found themselves right back in trouble as David Lopez made it 2-1 on 43 minutes.
Bridge was given time on the left to put a deep cross towards the far post where Lopez ghosted in and fired a fierce volley past Butland.
Half-time: Blues 1 Brighton 2
Clark looked to bolster his forward options in the second half as he sent striker Nikola Zigic on in place of Wade Elliott.
The Serb’s introduction immediately started to cause problems for the Brighton defence.
Zigic played Hall in with a header, but Kuszczak rushed out and punched the ball off his foot with the Blues man looking odds-on to score.
Orlandi then went close to extending his side’s lead just before the hour mark, but his goalbound effort was deflected over the bar by a Blues defender. From the resultant corner Craig Mackail-Smith was inches away from meeting the ball just a yard out.
Brighton continued to pile on the pressure and Butland was forced to dive at full length to deny Orlandi’s powerfully hit free kick.
With 70 minutes on the clock both managers elected to make a change. Clark replaced Redmond with leading scorer Marlon King and Gus Poyet sent on Will Buckley for goalscorer Lopez.
Blues were desperately trying to find a way back into the game but with them unable to penetrate a well-marshalled Brighton defence they were largely forced into trying speculative shots from distance.
That was until deep into stoppage time when Marlon King’s cross found strike partner Zigic. Kuszczak looked to have the ball covered but somehow fumbled it into the back of the net. 2-2.
But the game certainly wasn’t over as moments later Butland was forced to pull off a world class save to deny former Blues man Gary Dicker.
Full-time: Blues 2 Brighton 2
Blues: Jack Butland, Paul Caddis, Steven Caldwell, Curtis Davies, Paul Robinson, Chris Burke, Morgaro Gomis, Callum Reilly (Ravel Morrison, 82), Wade Elliott (Nikola Zigic, h/t), Nathan Redmond (Marlon King, 70), Rob Hall.
Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Mitch Hancox, Hayden Mullins, Peter Lovenkrands.
Bookings: Caldwell (60).
Goals: Caldwell (18), Zigic (90+2).
Brighton: Tomasz Kuszczak, Gordon Greer, Dean Hammond, Adam El-Abd, Ashley Barnes, Andrea Orlandi (Gary Dicker, 77), Craig Mackail-Smith (Rodriguez Vicente, 82), Inigo Calderon, David Lopez (Will Buckley, 70), Liam Bridcutt, Wayne Bridge.
Subs not used: Casper Ankergren, Lewis Dunk, Will Hoskins, Kazenga LuaLua.
Bookings: Bridcutt (14), Calderon (53), Greer (67).
Goals: Barnes (24), Lopez (43).
Referee: Phil Dowd.
Attendance: 15, 299 (1,221 Brighton fans).