Report: Blues 2-2 Millwall
Blues drew against Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon.
Lee Bowyer’s side took a deserved lead early in the second-half at St. Andrew's when Juninho Bacuna finished well before Oliver Burke drew the Lions level after 68 minutes.
But a spirited Birmingham City side showed their character to go back ahead through Lyle Taylor. The frontman converted excellently from 12-yards after he had been fouled in the box.
There was, however, a cruel twist of fate when a penalty was given against Taylor in the last of six added minutes, with Benik Afobe scoring from the spot.
Lee Bowyer made six changes to the side that faced Blackpool on bank holiday Monday. Neil Etheridge was back in goal after his absence due to injury had kept him out since the trip to Nottingham Forest, Maxime Colin and George Friend returned to the defence, with Jeremie Bela, Gary Gardner and Juninho Bacuna coming into the midfield.
Blues started on the front foot and ensured the opening stages were played deep inside the Millwall half, with this almost resulting in a goal after just two minutes. Onel Hernandez was brought down in a central position outside of the penalty area and Gary Gardner curled the resulting free kick over the wall, only to see it crash off the outside of the post.
Bacuna then tried his luck with a left-footed effort before his corner was met by George Friend, the returning defending getting up highest but not applying the required accuracy to his header.
In response, Millwall looked to threaten themselves and following a Maxime Colin intervention on the lurking Tom Bradshaw, the Lions were twice denied on the goalline. Murray Wallace was stopped by an athletic Etheridge and on the follow-up, Shaun Hutchinson saw a powerful effort on the volley headed away from under his own crossbar by Ivan Sunjic.
But it was Blues who finished the first period on top and they ended it as they had started - hitting the woodwork. Hernandez evaded multiple challenges before sliding the ball into the area where Bacuna fired without hesitation onto the post.
HALF-TIME: Blues 0-0 Millwall
After going close ahead of the break, Bacuna made sure to take his next opportunity just sixty seconds into the second-half. Hernandez did well to keep an early attack alive and when the ball ricocheted back to the Curacaon, he found both power and direction to beat Bartosz Bialkowski with his left foot.
Bradshaw then kept Etheridge honest with a strong save at his near post and it was Blues’ number one again denying the visitor’s striker when he tried his luck with a close-range hooked attempt, just moments after Taylor had tested Bialkowski from distance.
But Etheridge was helpless to keeping out the Lions’ next effort. Mason Bennett’s far-post cross was headed back across the six-yard box by Danny McNamara and Burke was poised to slam in the leveller.
However, the away team were unable to gain any serious momentum from their equaliser and Blues retook the lead from the penalty spot in the final quarter of an hour. Taylor was fouled when the hosts delivered a set-piece and he, following his trademark walk-up, stroked the ball into the bottom-left corner.
This had set the home side on course for a second victory of April until late controversy saw the spoils shared. Deep into injury time, Taylor was deemed to have fouled his man and Afobe confidently assumed penalty duties to see the game end level.
Bacuna's opener was well-deserved for the team and just reward for a fine individual display, the only dampener being that it will not go down in the history books as coming in a win.
Blues move onto 46 points from their 44 league outings.
Blues (3-5-2): Neil Etheridge, Nico Gordon, Marc Roberts, George Friend, Maxime Colin, Gary Gardner (captain), Ivan Sunjic, Juninho Bacuna, Jeremie Bela (Jordan Graham 82), Onel Hernandez, Lyle Taylor.
Substitutes not used: Connal Trueman, Jordan James, Ryan Woods, Scott Hogan, Troy Deeney, Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Booking: Roberts 52, Taylor 54, Sunjic 86, Bacuna 90.
Millwall (3-4-2-1): Bartosz Bialkowski, Dan Ballard, Shaun Hutchinson (captain) (Mason Bennett 63), Jake Cooper, Danny McNamara, Maikel Kieftenbeld, George Saville, Murray Wallace, Oliver Burke, Benik Afobe, Tom Bradshaw (Tyler Burey 89).
Substitutes not used: George Long, Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Leonard, Billy Mitchell, George Evans.
Booking: Saville 25, McNamara 72, Cooper 74.
Referee: Leigh Doughty.
Blues' penultimate home fixture is followed by their last on the road of the 2021/22 season. This takes them to Cardiff City next Saturday, kick-off 3pm, before the campaign concludes at St. Andrew's in a fortnight's time, with Blackburn Rovers the visitors, kick-off 12.30pm.