Thursday 23 November 2017

McLeish hails stirring Birmingham recovery


David McVay

IN the race to secure the Premier League's equivalent of a consolation prize, a place in the Europa League next season, there was no significant progress to report from St Andrew's yesterday.

In the race to emerge from the shadows of their more feted neighbours, again no news of an advance from the second city to cheer the fans of either Birmingham City or Everton.

A match that rarely failed to entertain demonstrated why both these teams, though standing on the brink of the division's elite, are unlikely to aspire beyond their present station.

David Moyes opines that this is the best Everton squad he has worked with during his eight years' tenure and for the first quarter of this match, he appeared vindicated in his judgment before Birmingham rallied to claim a point.

As Everton dictated, Victor Anichebe turned Liam Ridgewell in the 18-yard area and powered a left-foot shot into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season. Three minutes later, Steven Pienaar's clever centre created a routine headed finish for Ayegbeni Yakubu; 2-0 easy as you like.

"They could have blown us away but this was so typical of what we have done this season," said Birmingham manager Alex McLeish.

The revival, however, required a touch of Lady Luck as Cameron Jerome's faintest of touches diverted Keith Fahey's aimless centre through the legs of Phil Jagielka and beyond Tim Howard to reduce arrears. Birmingham's recovery was complete in the 52nd minute as Craig Gardner's crisp left-foot volley flew home.

Everton remained the more composed and had three penalty appeals for hand-ball turned down. Yet Birmingham's resilience was deserving of a result that extended an unbeaten home sequence that began in September to 12 games.

Sunday Independent

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